Thursday 27 July 2017

Revealed: President Obama's Irish scrapbook

Behind-the-scenes shots by personal photographer document historic trip

Barack Obama pulling pints in Ollie Hayes's pub
Barack Obama pulling pints in Ollie Hayes's pub
Obama and his wife Michelle arriving at Moneygall
President Obama embracing Liz Sherwood-Randall at College Green, Dublin
Barack and Michelle Obama with President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin in Aras an Uachtarain

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

IT'S the official scrapbook for US President Barack Obama's visit to his ancestral home -- compiled by his own personal photographer.

The White House has released a series of behind-the-scenes pictures of his historic trip to Ireland last May.

It includes shots of Mr Obama behind the bar in Ollie Hayes's pub in Moneygall, Co Offaly, while his wife Michelle is shown how to pull a pint.

He is also pictured having a private meeting with President Mary McAleese in Aras an Uachtarain. And he and the first lady are seen arriving in Moneygall GAA pitch, which was used as the landing site for the US helicopters.

And the photographs also reveal that a high-ranking US official became the only casualty during Mr Obama's visit when she was blown over by the wind.

Hug

There are snaps of Mr Obama giving a consoling hug to Elizabeth Sherwood Randall, his senior director for European Affairs, after she was blown over by the wind and injured her left wrist in the fall.

She had been accompanying him as he travelled to Ireland, England and Poland but had the misfortune to arrive in Dublin on a day when wind speeds hit up to 70kmh.

Mrs Obama was affected by the wind, too, when her hair was blown around after stepping off Air Force One at Dublin Airport. But according to a US embassy source, she passed it off later in the day when she was asked in Ollie Hayes's pub if she was feeling the cold and wind. "No, all I feel is the love," she said.

The strong winds also posed problems for Mr Obama's visit to his ancestral home town. One of the US helicopters flown over from England to support his visit was grounded at Dublin Airport because its rotor blade was damaged.

Mr Obama was flown to Moneygall in one of two other official helicopters.

The White House's official photographer, Pete Souza, specifically commented on the warm welcome the president and his wife got during their one-day visit when he uploaded his photographs.

"I included several from Ireland to show how enthusiastically the people reacted to the president and first lady," he wrote.

Mr Souza previously carried out similar work for former US President Ronald Regan. He published a bestselling photobook in 2008 'The Rise of Barack Obama' which documented an earlier stage in Mr Obama's political life -- his first year in the senate.

Irish Independent

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