Village no longer a speck on map after massive clean-up
Published 19/05/2011 | 05:00
THERE's nothing like a visit from the most powerful man in the world to get a village spruced up in record time.
A few months ago, Moneygall was an ordinary dot on the map on the main road to Limerick.
Today, it's transformed as the locals prepare to roll out the red carpet for the US president.
Flags blew in the wind, trucks pulled up, builders plastered frantically, gardai peered down manholes, council workers checked flag poles and the US Secret Service paced around the village as last-minute meetings were held.
Amidst all the excitement, Moira Sheppard (66) just about had a chance to watch the Queen of England on her TV. But she was interrupted when a radio crew stopped by for a 'cupan tae'.
"I've never in my life seen anything like this, nor will I ever again," she said excitedly. "You have no idea what this visit has done for Moneygall. It has lifted all of our spirits and we'll never be the same again."
Around the corner from Mrs Sheppard's home, children were filing into Moneygall's primary school. The school has been championing Barack Obama on this side of the Atlantic since he was a barely known black senator in 2007.
Yesterday, the children of principal Eugene Ryan's sixth class were more than happy to share their ideas about where Mr Obama should visit during his whistlestop tour of the village.
"I think he should go down to Templeharry Church," said 12-year-old Orlaith Murray, who was interrupted briefly by a classmate who informed Orlaith that the "Secret Service wouldn't allow that".
"Well maybe he could come to the school then," another boy said, before Mark Fanning (11) mentioned his uncle Paul's 'Siopa Beag', where souvenirs are being sold to commemorate the visit.
Everyone in Moneygall -- even the children -- are getting in on the action and enjoying an economic boost from the US presidential visit.
The children are aware of Mr Obama's influence in the world with one boy, Daniel Quinlan (13), mentioning his uncle, Philip.
"He lives in Chicago," he exclaimed before Mark Fanning chipped in, "I have loads of cousins in America".
In Busherstown, on the outskirts of Moneygall, local entrepreneur Jason Austin, who made a name for himself after he painted an American flag and a tricolour on his bungalow, is preparing to open a car park to facilitate up to 2,000 cars.
"It's a half-a-kilometre from the inner barrier on the main Roscrea to Moneygall Road. We're after cutting silage to clear the field off so we're ready now.
"We hope the gardai will come on stream with us as the field is ideally located. People can come to our village and walk in, we're open for business," he said.
Another farmer, Timmy Talbot, welcomed a new arrival to Moneygall at the weekend.
There is currently a dispute in the village on whether to call the little calf Cowbama or Barack Obama.
However, Timmy believes the name Barack will stick as the black and white calf is a natural leader who was on his feet within minutes of being born in the early hours of last Saturday morning.