Monday 23 October 2017

Village residents raise a glass to Independence Day

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

IT was a tight squeeze, but 500 Moneygall residents crammed into Ollie Hayes' pub last night to toast their favourite son and wish him a 'Happy Independence Day'.

Still riding high on the visit of US President Barack Obama in May, many locals decided to take a day off work in recognition of their newly adopted national holiday.

A steady stream of American tourists visited the most famous village in Ireland eager to retrace the steps of Mr Obama and his wife Michelle while a number of musicians spontaneously took up residence in Ollie's pub.

Last night crowds gathered for the launch of 'Is Feidir Linn: A Golden Ticket to Moneygall', a new book written by the Irish Independent's Eimear Ni Bhraonain, with photographs by Jeff Harvey.

It charts the unlikely story of how the world's most powerful leader traced his roots to Moneygall -- "the dot on the map along the main road to Limerick" -- and how one rural community found itself gripped by Obama-mania.

In May 2007, when an American genealogist traced the lineage of Fulmouth Kearney, both Mr Obama and Moneygall were relative unknowns.

"Moneygall was an underdog and so too was Barack Obama. But every step of the way Moneygall has backed Obama," explained Eimear. "We never thought it would come to the stage where Barack Obama was President of the United States of America and (he would) acknowledge this tiny village.

"But this book isn't just about Obama, it's about an amazing community spirit, about the 'feidir linn' attitude," she explained.

Some 3,000 copies of the book, which costs €25, have been printed for its first edition and Eimear said they expected to be sold out by the middle of the week.

Many of the parish's 1,700 inhabitants are purchasing it to send to family and friends living abroad.

Plans are also afoot to publish it in America in time for St Patrick's Day next year.

Irish Independent

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