Obama to receive gift of special monastic scroll
Council to give Michelle silver and diamond pendant
Published 22/05/2011 | 05:00
US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are to be showered with specially commissioned gifts from the people of Offaly when they arrive at his ancestral home in Moneygall tomorrow.
The president and first lady, who arrive into Dublin Airport tomorrow morning on Air Force One, will travel by marine helicopter to Offaly before returning to Dublin for a major public address in College Green tomorrow evening.
Among the gifts commissioned by Offaly County Council for the Obamas is an ancient monastic-styled calligraphy scroll and a silver and diamond pendant of an Offaly flower for Michelle Obama.
Renowned calligrapher and historian Tim O'Neill was commissioned by Offaly County Council to design and produce the traditional Celtic scroll, marking the "occasion of the historic visit" of the Obamas to Ireland.
O'Neill, a teacher at St Benildus College in south Dublin, is the foremost calligrapher in the traditional style in Ireland and has based his design on manuscripts produced in the midlands more than 1,200 years ago.
"The monastic midlands produced many fine manuscripts, including the Book of Durrow, and I have certainly based the calligraphy design of the scroll to Mr and Mrs Obama on such scripts."
The scroll, written in both Irish and English, also includes the county's coat of arms, and is made from highly durable vellum. A 1,000-year-old script was discovered in an Offaly bog five years ago.
The Andromeda flower pendant, designed by Rachel McKenna and made by fourth generation jeweller Cathal Barber, is a tribute to the Offaly county flower. The Obamas will also receive a music CD, as well as book on the history of thatched houses in rural Ireland, similar to the one Mr Obama's great great great grandfather on his mother's side lived in.
As with the Queen's visit last week, traffic restrictions will continue today in Dublin city centre ahead of tomorrow's visit. The Phoenix Park will also be closed today to all vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, with the exception of visitors to Dublin Zoo.
Access to Dame Street has been cut off since yesterday morning to facilitate the construction of the podium for Mr Obama's address. Mr Obama will call on President Mary McAleese at Aras an Uachtarain and visit his ancestral home in Moneygall, Co Offaly.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mr Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will also take part in a public celebration of the visit at College Green in Dublin on Monday evening.
The Irish Aviation Authority said yesterday that arrivals and departures from Dublin Airport would be suspended for up to 30 minutes during his arrival. The same will happen during his departure on Tuesday.
The existing parking restrictions will continue until Tuesday on Chesterfield Avenue, north and south quays, Parkgate Street, D'Olier Street, Westmoreland Street, College Street, and Grafton Street.
Parking will also be restricted on Nassau Street, South Leinster Street, Lincoln Place, Westland Row, Pearse Street, Christchurch Place, Lord Edward Street, Merrion Square, Merrion Street and Fitzwilliam Place.
Parking restrictions on Mount Street, Northumberland Road, Baggott Street, Pembroke Road, Raglan Road, Clyde Road and Herbert Park will remain until after tomorrow night's address.
While not in the agreed programme as of last night, Mr Obama could still make a stop at Daniel O'Connell's crypt at Glasnevin Cemetary, in recognition of his stance on slavery.