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Sunday 4 December 2016

Just time for a quick pint (of milk) as Sean skips quizzing

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

Published 15/10/2011 | 05:00

IF Sean Gallagher could skip over questions about his Fianna Fail links as effortlessly as he did with a rope in the schoolyard yesterday, there wouldn't be a bother on him.

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The children of Moneygall National School were wide-eyed and the mammies gasped as the television dragon took part in an annual skip-a-thon.

Eager not to miss a trick, the Independent was the first presidential candidate to visit Barack Obama's Irish ancestral home on the campaign trail.

Henry Healy greeted Mr Gallagher when he stepped onto the pavement outside Ollie Hayes's pub yesterday.

Maybe it was because he was a bit frazzled from being on the road for the past few weeks, or perhaps the 'Prime Time' debate was still troubling him, but when Mr Gallagher stretched out his hand to the American president's distant cousin, he said, "Hello Willie."

The Hayeses were out in force in their 'Sean Gallagher' jackets -- and even Mr Healy, who coincidentally happens to be a member of Fianna Fail, donned the blue coat.

Mr Healy escorted Mr Gallagher to meet the famous 80-year-old publican, Julia Hayes.

Julia, who regularly hosts the Fine Gael Health Minister James Reilly in her bar, warmly embraced Mr Gallagher. "Ah Lord save us. . . I couldn't even shake hands with Obama but I'll shake yours," she said, before inviting him "in the back" to see her husband, Joe.

A few minutes later, they were back inside Ollie's where Mr Gallagher downed a pint -- not of the black stuff -- but of milk, along with a muffin.

Mr Healy said he was "inspired" by Mr Gallagher's campaign, which is "all about communities and bringing it back to grassroots".

Before he set off to the local primary school, Mr Gallagher said that meeting Mr Healy had "nothing to do with politics". He appeared somewhat affronted when asked questions about Fianna Fail and whether or not he had been in the Galway tent over the years, assuring that whatever is dug up, "you'll find nothing but integrity".

In the schoolyard, the Moneygall children were just as excited about seeing Mr Healy as they were about Mr Gallagher's arrival. "I saw you on telly," six-year-old Debhin Fahy shouted in Mr Healy's direction.

David Tuohy (7) was quick to point out that Mr Healy couldn't be president because "he's the president's cousin".

After a skipping rope was found, Mr Gallagher, left, put on an impressive display for the youngsters.

He'll be hoping his skipping skills in the school yard come in handy when he faces the next round of questions -- and tries to avoid the FF-word.

Irish Independent

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