The Obama business...
From mugs to specially branded tea brack, beer to wall clocks, baseball caps to novelty T-shirts, a clutch of entrepreneurs have ensured the Obama in Ireland industry is thriving ahead of the president's arrival in Moneygall
Forget Dragons' Den. President Barack Obama's Irish visit has sparked a sharp rise in entrepreneurship as opportunistic people throughout the country devise ingenious ways of extracting cash from the public. Here's a sample of some of them.
Dubliner Kevin Devine is hopeful that the "been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" maxim will come to fruition when Mr Obama visits Ireland. Together with friend Alan Curley, he has created two Ts --What's The Craic, Barack? and Barack Is From Feckin' Offaly (which neatly abbreviates as BIFFO) -- and is hoping punters will enjoy the humour and the youthful style.
Meanwhile, Moneygall native Billy Hayes has designed 15 different T-shirts and has enjoyed a brisk trade thanks to curious visitors to Mr Obama's ancestral home. "These T-shirts are made on site in Moneygall and I hope that will be their main selling-point," Billy says. "They can be bought on the Moneygall.com website if you're not able to get to the village."
Trade has been steady so far, but Billy reckons interest in his T-shirts will pick up spectacularly once Mr Obama juggernaut hits Ireland. Shops in Moneygall are also selling mugs, a special edition Moneygall clock and teddies with Obama t-shirts
The Corrigan Brothers were a small-time ballad group plying their trade in the midlands when Obama fever first took hold in Moneygall three years ago. Realising an opportunity to capture the feelgood mood, they released a single called 'There's No One As Irish As Barack Obama'.
Five million YouTube hits later and they signed to Universal Ireland and accepted an invitation to visit the White House on St Patrick's Day. Their latest effort, 'Welcome Home President Barack Obama', isn't quite as catchy, although the accompanying video, featuring RTE's Derek Mooney in a specially mocked-up Offaly GAA jersey, looks like an out-take from Father Ted.
Meanwhile, not to be outdone, a local trad band, TippOff (a name inspired by neighbouring counties Tipperary and Offaly) have released a pair of Obama-inspired songs: 'As Sure As My Name Is Kearney' and 'The Barack Obama Reel'.
Pig meat specialists Rudd's could not let Mr Obama's visit to Moneygall -- less than a mile up the road -- pass without marking it in some way. And so, according to Simon Rudd, the 'Barack-fast' Pack was born. "We thought it was a fun idea and the response to it has been great so far."
For €6 you get sausages, rashers and a black and white pudding. "We checked with the White House to see if it was okay to use President Obama's name and there was no problem," says Simon.
To enjoy a full presidential breakfast, why not add 'Obama Bread' -- a multi-seed, limited-edition product manufactured by the Clondalkin, Dublin-based Soul Bakery. It's available in Moneygall and selected stores nationwide. There's also Moneygall beer, and Obama Brack waiting to be snapped up
Moneygall has been enjoying the mother of all facelifts in advance of Mr Obama's visit and the Irish paint firm Dulux is anxious to take some of the credit.
The company has donated 3,800 litres of paint -- around €20,000 worth -- to help spruce up the houses on the main street and on the laneways off it. "It's all part of the Dulux Let's Colour Project," says marketing manager Roisin Bermingham. "We want communities to show themselves off in the best possible light and we thought we could help Moneygall look its very best for President Obama's visit this month."
Banners welcoming Mr Obama to Moneygall will be hung in a number of locations in the village and the Dulux brand name will receive prominent billing.
Moneygall was by-passed by the Dublin-Limerick motorway, the M7, late last year but motorists will be stopping off at the Barack Obama Plaza from early 2012.
The grandly titled venue will be a filling station and restaurant complex developed by Irish burger-chain empire Supermac's. The biggest motorway stop-off in Ireland, it will have parking space for 74 cars, 14 coaches and 47 trucks, an enormous service station and a Supermac's restaurant and a Papa John's pizza outlet.
Supermac's CEO Pat McDonagh is still waiting on clearance to use the name for the €7m venture. "It would honour the president and be a lasting memory of his visit here as well," he says. "I can see a lot of opportunity for Moneygall in the future and it has the added advantage of President Obama's ancestors coming from here, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Irish Independent Supplement