Show me the Moneygall, cry two counties
Published 18/03/2011 | 05:00
THE itinerary has already been set in stone as preparations reach fever pitch in the tiny village that is the "O'Bama" ancestral home.
But a row has broken out as to which county can lay claim to Moneygall -- population 300 -- which the US President's Kearney forefathers called home.
Although the village is in Co Offaly, the local GAA pitch is in Co Tipperary. And yesterday, MEP and former GAA president Sean Kelly laid claim to Moneygall for Tipp -- which is conveniently in his Munster constituency.
Mr Kelly expressed delight at Mr Obama's visit, for which he brazenly attempted to claim credit personally.
"I am thrilled that President Obama has heeded my request that he visits his ancestral home in Moneygall, Tipperary," he said.
Another potential row could be over who gets to organise the prestigious event.
Barack Obama's ninth cousin, Henry Healy, yesterday told the Irish Independent he hoped that since the Moneygall contingent did a lot of work behind the scenes in orchestrating the visit, it would get to have a "strong say" in the preparations.
"We've been working hard on this since May 2007 when we backed the unknown senator," he said. "We'd be very disappointed to see the Department of Foreign Affairs swoop in to take over."
Mr Healy said they already had an itinerary in place for the president, the centrepiece of which would be a visit to the homestead of Fulmouth Kearney -- the US president's great-great-great grandfather.
It had been thought it was no longer standing but a group from Trinity College discovered that the house is still intact on the main street and is leased by a local publican.
A trip to the house where Mr Obama's ancestors attended church services might also be appreciated, along with a visit to Church Templeharry, where his ancestors were baptised.
"It wouldn't be a presidential stopover without a visit to the local pub, which is Ollies," Mr Healy added.
Mr Obama himself once remarked: "There's a little village in Ireland where my great-great-great grandfather came from -- and I'm looking forward to going there and having a pint."