Tuesday 19 November 2019

Moneygall now firmly on world stage

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

MONEYGALL is now firmly on the map used by the likes of the CIA, FBI, CNN and any other American acronyms you care to mention.

US President Barack Obama is due to arrive here in two months' time, but Moneygall has already well and truly arrived on the world stage.

Unsurprisingly, the feeling yesterday among the 350 villagers in the Offaly parish -- which borders Co Tipperary -- was part excitement, part apprehension and part bewilderment.

But for the true believers, the forthcoming visit has been in the offing since May 2007.

For that was when Church of Ireland rector Canon Stephen Neill tracked down baptismal records that proved a link between Barack Obama and Moneygall.

He had been contacted by genealogists at ancestry.com who were trying to prove that Obama's great-great-great grandfather on his mother's side was the son of a shoemaker, Fulmouth Kearney, from Moneygall.

Henry Healy, a distant ninth cousin, said he was "overwhelmed" on St Patrick's Day when Mr Obama specifically mentioned coming to Moneygall.


Mr Obama will be taken on a tour of the village, where he will be brought to his ancestor's home on Main Street, the building where his relatives attended school and Templeharry church, where his Protestant ancestors worshipped.

In the local primary school, pupils were chatting yesterday about the US president's plans. The father of one little girl, Rachel Donovan, owns the property where Mr Obama's ancestors were born.

A cardboard cut-out of the US president is as close as most locals have got to him. An American tourist left it in Hayes' pub.

The real Obama will, one imagines, also have a few pictures taken of him when he passes through.

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