Wednesday 23 October 2019

Rachel gears up to welcome Michelle and her girls

Rachel Donovan (14) with her pony Ruby and dog Jamie outside the ancestral home of US President Barack Obama, who visited Moneygall with his wife Michelle in 2011 (above left).
Rachel Donovan (14) with her pony Ruby and dog Jamie outside the ancestral home of US President Barack Obama, who visited Moneygall with his wife Michelle in 2011 (above left).
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A SCHOOLGIRL who met US President Barack Obama and the first lady during their visit to his ancestral village hopes she may be inviting two new young friends into her home soon.

The sleepy village of Moneygall in Co Offaly, which has been indelibly inked on the tourist map since the 2011 visit, has pledged to roll out the red carpet if Michelle Obama and her two daughters visit in June.

On the visit two years ago, Mrs Obama told shopowner John Donovan's children Rachel (14) and Philip (18) that she would like her daughters – Sasha (11) and Malia (14) – to meet them.

"She would be very welcome. The feeling of goodwill towards them was phenomenal," said Mr Donovan, amid hopes of a return visit to Mr Obama's ancestral home around the time of the G8 summit in Co Fermanagh this June.

Delighted

"She spent a lot of time talking to my son Philip and Rachel. She said something along the lines that she would like them to meet her children."

Rachel described Mrs Obama as "lovely", and that everyone was "delighted" she might make a return trip with her daughters.

"I'd hope we'd have something in common. I'm sure we are both into shoes and clothes and make-up," Rachel said.

Officials have been coy about confirming any travel plans for the first lady and her daughters, with both the White House and the Irish Embassy in Washington stating it could not confirm a visit was in the diary.

Moneygall's most famous resident Henry Healy said the village would be "more than receptive" to the first lady and her daughters.

On their visit in 2011, Mr Obama enjoyed a pint of Guinness in Mr Hayes' pub and also visited his ancestral Kearney homestead in Moneygall.

"It has definitely put us on the map. We get a lot of people calling from all over Ireland, Europe and the US. Tour buses call frequently," said Mr Healy.

"It has boosted the local economy and lifted the community spirit."

Mr Hayes told how last March, during the St Patrick's Day celebrations at the White House, Mrs Obama spoke of her longing to visit again.

"She did tell my wife Majella 'I'm coming whether, the president comes with me or not, I'm coming to Moneygall with the girls'," Mr Hayes said.

Lise Hand

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News