independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

'We are you. We are just like you' - Michelle Obama inspires Irish children

Lyndsey Telford

A YOUNGSTER was rendered speechless as Michelle Obama affectionately greeted him and classmates backstage at a special performance of the dance spectacular Riverdance.

Rebecca Morgan, aged 11 and a fifth class pupil in Moneygall National School in Co Offaly - President Barack Obama's ancestral homeland - revealed one of her classmates was dumbstruck with shyness.

 

The young lad, named only as Billy, could not bring himself to speak even though he thinks the First Lady is beautiful.

 

"She is so beautiful and very tall," the 11-year-old said.

 

"She looks even prettier in real life than on TV.

 

"A boy in my class was really embarrassed when she touched Billy's hand because he thinks she is so beautiful. He was so shy."

 

The youngsters were among scores invited to the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin where Mrs Obama and her daughters Mali and Sasha became some of the 22 million people around the world to have seen the Riverdance phenomenon live.

 

Mrs Obama followed up the backstage chat when she took her seat in the front row when, flanked by her daughters, she leaned in to talk to children as they waited for the performance to start.

 

Moments before she revealed Mali and Sasha's amazement during their visit to Trinity College.

 

"I don't know if many of you have been there, it's like Hogwarts, as Sasha pointed out," she told the audience.

 

Mrs Obama was introduced by Fionnuala Kenny, wife of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who himself admitted that he cries every time he watches Riverdance.

 

In 2011, he described it as ancient dance translated into a phenomenal and powerful message.

 

President Michael D Higgins' wife Sabina also attended the performance.

 

Mrs Obama, dressed in an elegant trouser suit with a silk pink and bronze top, waved and joked with the audience, telling them how good looking they are.

 

She said it was very powerful to find out that two girls born on the south side of Chicago could trace their lineage back to the 1600s in rural Ireland.

 

"(The Long Room) was a huge room with shelf after shelf of books, a beautiful place, and I hope many that all of you aspire to go there, if not study there but just to go there and experience what it is like to be surrounded by so much history and so much power," she said.

 

And the First Lady took the opportunity to encourage hundreds of youngsters from schools around Ireland to work hard.

 

"We are you. We are just like you. Just kids who worked a little hard and dreamt pretty big and got to do some wonderful things," she said.

 

Mrs Obama will spend tonight in the Shelbourne Hotel with her daughters amid a huge security presence in Dublin city centre.

 

Their trip rounds off tomorrow with a visit to Glendalough in the Wicklow mountains before they travel north to meet President Obama and fly out to Germany.

 

Press Association

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