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Saturday 21 April 2018

The Obama girls visit Glendalough

Michelle Obama with her daughters Malia and Sasha at Glendalough
Michelle Obama with her daughters Malia and Sasha at Glendalough
Michelle Obama and her daughters Malia and Sasha leave the Shelbourne Hotel en route to Glendalough, Wicklow.

US first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters have begun a private guided tour of the Wicklow Mountains National Park as their whistlestop tour of Ireland draws to a close.

The sun beamed down on the hills above the twin lakes at Glendalough as Ms Obama and Malia and Sasha walked through the famous monastic site.

The girls were given a lesson on the ancient ruins by local tour guide George McClafferty.

The valley, in the heart of the Wicklow mountains, offers some of the most popular rural landscapes in Ireland and is a well-worn tourist path for visitors to the east coast.

The family will enjoy lunch in the exclusive Dalkey area today - reportedly with U2 star Bono - before heading north to meet President Barack Obama and travel on to Germany for the latest leg of his European meetings.

The president's youngest daughter, 12-year-old Sasha, batted swarming midges away from her face as the trio learned about the legendary Deer Stone.

Mr McClafferty told the Obamas the tale of a wild doe appearing before St Kevin - founder of the monastery - who milked it and fed two orphan babies from the hollowed-out stone.

Dressed in a casual outdoor jacket, patterned white jeans and grey Converse trainers, Mrs Obama nodded and smiled, asking the guide questions about the legend.

Her daughters paid close attention too, looking around the hills in their jeans and trainers - 14-year-old Malia in a classic navy hoodie, while Sasha wore a baggy grey jumper.

Tour guide Mr McClafferty took a seat on the famous stone as he shared some of the folklore of the site, founded in the sixth century.

"That gives great power," Mrs Obama told him as she triumphantly raised her fists in the air.

The Obamas were shown around the monastic ruins in the heart of the glacial valley and walked around the round tower.

Sasha was given the honour of closing the door to the ruins of St Kevin's Church, which dates back 1500 years.

The teenager was handed a key and she locked the door, before turning to her older sister and giving her a high five.

The Obamas later left for Dalkey where they will attend a lunch at Finnegan's, Bono's local pub.

By Lyndsey Telford

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