Thursday 22 March 2018

The moment Obama came home to Moneygall

A US Secret Service member cleans US President Barack Obama's limousine as he arrives for a meeting with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Farmleigh. Photo: Getty Images
Enda Kenny shows US President Barack Obama the use of a hurling stick as their wives Fionnuala Kenny and Michelle Obama look on following a meeting at Farmleigh. Photo: Getty Images
US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a meeting at the Farmleigh. Photo: Getty Images
US President Barack Obama, President Mary McAleese, Dr Martin McAleese, and First Lady Michelle Obama at Aras an Uachtarain. Photo: PA
President Mary McAleese greets US President Barack Obama at Aras an Uachtarain. Photo: PA
The signatures of US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are seen in a visitors book at Aras an Uachtarain. Photo: Getty Images
President Obama with his wife Michelle. Photo: PA
US President Barrack Obama and his wife Michelle land in Dublin Airport on Air Force One at the start of his visit to Ireland. Photo: PA
President Obama and his wife Michelle with Dan Rooney (centre), Patricia Rooney (2nd left), and Eamonn Gilmore (3rd right). Photo: PA

Ed Carty and Sarah Stack

US President Barack Obama this afternoon set foot in his Irish ancestral home for the first time.

The President and the First Lady arrived in Moneygall, Co Offaly, just after 3pm where up to 3,000 people lined the streets to welcome him home.

They then walked down the town’s main street shaking hands with locals who gave them a rapturous welcome.

At one point a baby was passed out from the crowd to the President who held her in his arms for a moment before passing her back over people’s heads to her family.

The President and his wife Michelle both hugged his distant cousin Henry Healy on the street outside the ancestral home.

After torrential rain this morning, the sun shone for the walk-about.

There were concerns the President's trip to the Midlands would be interrupted by severe weather with gale force winds and driving rain threatening to force security chiefs to order his helicopter grounded.

But the Obamas touched down in sports fields just outside the village to travel the final few miles by car.

The couple were greeted with huge cheers from several thousand onlookers.

The records from two local parishes, Moneygall and Shinrone, were on display in the pub for the President to see first hand evidence of his Irish roots.

Mr Obama's great-great-great-great-grandfather was a shoemaker in the rural village and his son, Falmouth Kearney, left for New York in 1850.

The couple's short visit included a trip to Kearney ancestral home, where they were greeted by John Donovan, the owner of the house, and his family.

They also visited Ollie Hayes' pub to meet extended family members including representatives of the Healy, Donovan and Benn families.

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