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Wednesday 22 March 2017

'Overwhelmed' Henry VIII holds court for next batch of visitors

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

Clockwise from top: Valerie Leyden, Ollie Hayes and Majella Hayes with the keg from which Mr Obama's pint was poured; Henry Healy with the president's €50 payment; and Katie Hayes.

AN innocent question by a curly-haired four-year-old prompted Barack Obama to promise he'd return to Moneygall.

Katie Hayes, while generally shy, was not afraid to ask a question of the US president.

She was in the arms of her favourite uncle, Mike Hayes, when she boldly asked: "Where are your two girls?"

The daughter of publican Ollie Hayes was asking after the Obama daughters, Malia (12) and Sasha (9).

"He told her, 'I will be here again and I'll bring my two girls with me,'" her father Ollie said yesterday.

The publican said that Monday was an "emotional day" for his family. "Nobody expected him to play the crowd the way he did. He walked up and down to meet the people like he's never done," he said.

Unsurprisingly, Moneygall woke up late yesterday morning.

And it was left to Henry VIII -- Henry Healy -- to greet the first people who arrived in the village AB (After Barack).

He told the Irish Independent that the visit still "hasn't sunk in. . . It's still a bit overwhelming".

He admitted he was a bag of nerves initially. "I got up to go down and meet him," he said. "As soon as I walked out the nerves were gone because the people really buzzed me. I calmed and thought 'Yes I can'."

Michelle Obama was the first person to greet Henry. "She said, 'Henry, I believe you are family?'

"She said to me, 'You are like the president, you have the same height and build.'"

Mr Obama greeted Henry by calling him "Henry the eighth", much to Moneygall villagers' amusement.

Despite appearances, however, not everyone in the village got to meet Mr Obama. Michelle Obama was one who noticed the absence of the second publican in the village -- 80-year-old Julia Hayes.

Julia watched the visit from her upstairs window. Michelle asked if they could visit Julia's small pub, but it was explained to her that the crowd were in the way.

"She asked about going over to see her but we couldn't with the crowds," said Mr Healy. "She said 'that's a pity'."

Among the tourists in Moneygall soaking up the atmosphere of the aftermath was American Paul Crary.

"I'm from California but I've got Irish in me on my grandmother's side," he said.

Irish Independent

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