Tuesday 20 February 2018

Obama enthusiast flags his excitement at flying visit

Jason Austin and son Matthew, by their home in Moneygall, Co Offaly
Jason Austin and son Matthew, by their home in Moneygall, Co Offaly

Fiona Ellis and Eimear Ni Bhraonain

Barack Obama, Jason Austin and son Matthew, by their home in Moneygall, Co Offaly, and, below right, Queen Elizabeth.

Preparations are well under way for the visit of President Barack Obama to Co Offaly with the stars and stripes painted on a house in Moneygall after one man took the plunge ahead of the visit.

The house around the corner from Ollie Hayes's bar was the talk of the village all day yesterday.

Tipperary native Jason Austin is the owner of the house but he does not live there.

"You can always rely on Jason to be colourful," said Henry Healy, the famed eighth cousin of Barack Obama.

Mr Obama's trip to Moneygall has received international attention since he accepted an invitation to visit the tiny village where his ancestors hailed from.

He is due to visit on May 23. However, this may be changed to Sunday depending on his schedule.

Meanwhile, indications of a visit by Queen Elizabeth to Coolmore Stud in Co Tipperary grew yesterday as gardai visited a small town near the famous stud farm where the queen is rumoured to have horses.

Locals from Fethard have been questioned by gardai.

John Carroll, owner of PJ Lonergan's pub on Main Street in Fethard, had a visit from gardai who asked about his family, employees and noted his car registration.

"They were looking to know all about the business. They are asking questions all along a certain stretch of back road from Cashel to here. It's about six miles. It's probably for security.

"She's (the queen) a lady who loves her horses so I wouldn't be surprised if she goes for a visit."

Ann Marie Butler of Butler's Sports Bar said gardai asked her and her mother many probing questions.

"They asked who we were and where we came from. Who was working here and their names. They even asked my mother who her parents' parents were.

"I heard the queen is supposed to take a helicopter from Cashel over to Coolmore and the security is in case the weather is bad and she has to drive."

The queen will visit Ireland on May 17-20. Her itinerary includes trips to Aras an Uachtarain, the Garden of Remembrance and the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the Irish National Stud in Co Kildare and The Rock of Cashel in Co Tipperary.

Irish Independent

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