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Moneygall ticket war looms as details of Obama trip revealed

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama will address 5,000 people outside the schoolhouse where his ancestors were educated.

Offaly County Council is finalising plans for his visit to his ancestral village of Moneygall on Monday, May 23.

Yesterday, the council, which is organising the Moneygall leg of the visit, moved to reassure villagers the occasion will not be hijacked by politicians or dignitaries.

Moneygall residents will be allocated 1,000 tickets for Mr Obama's visit -- another 500 invites will be issued by both Offaly and North Tipperary county councils.

Moneygall has a population of around 350, but the parish has more than 1,700 residents. Therefore, the ticket allocation of 1,000 could become a contentious issue.

It is thought Moneygall residents will want to bring relatives from neighbouring parishes over for the event while other places such as Shinrone, which also has Obama connections, will also expect to receive an allocation.

Mr Obama's helicopter will land in the Moneygall GAA field -- where security experts were carrying out checks yesterday.

He will be escorted through the village from the west side of Moneygall -- ensuring that his first stop is the Kearney homestead.

The original house where Mr Obama's Irish ancestors once lived still stands today. He will hear a talk on life in Moneygall in the late 18th century, most likely by a local heritage officer or historian.

He will then be brought through Main Street where he will stop off at Ollie Hayes's bar. There will be traditional music and dancing to entertain Mr Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Following this brief stop, he will be introduced to the crowds outside by the cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, Danny Owens.

A platform will be erected in front of the old schoolhouse where he will make a speech.

Offaly County Council has insisted Moneygall will play a central role in organising the festivities.

It said there was not the "slightest concern" that politicians or dignitaries would overshadow the visit.

"We are looking forward to the impending VIP visit. It will reflect the village, the county, the region, the nation and it will be an international event, too," said director of services Sean Murray.

Once the Moneygall tickets and tickets for the local authorities have been distributed, there will be 3,000 left for the public, who will have to apply for them on a first-come, first- served basis.

Offaly and Tipperary will share in the visit because the outskirts of Moneygall is in Co Tipperary.

There will be strict security in place and the 5,000 people given access will be vetted by US security and gardai.

Irish Independent