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Obama's cousin Henry gets the rock star treatment

BARACK Obama's Irish cousin feels like a "rock star" after taking Washington DC by storm.

Henry Healy watched on delightedly last night as Taoiseach Enda Kenny presented the US president with a Certificate of Irish Ancestry -- thereby officially confirming his connection to the tiny village of Moneygall.

And the US president wasted no time using the honour to take a stab at the "birthers" who continue to question not just his Irish links, but also his American heritage.

"This will have a special place of honour alongside my birth certificate," drawing a big laugh from the crowd at last night's Irish party in the White House. Among the invited guests in the East Room were Mr Healy and Offaly publican Ollie Hayes.

Asked about the highlight of his Washington trip, Henry said: "Definitely travelling in the presidential motorcade through DC. We got to experience what it was like to be a rock star for five minutes.

"All along the streets people were cheering and chanting for the president. I never thought I'd get to experience something like that in a million years."

On St Patrick's Day itself, Mr Obama surprised his cousin by inviting him out for a pint in The Dubliner pub in Washington.

"The attention since our surprise early visit to Washington has been amazing. We're taking DC by storm.

"The reaction has been great," he said. "We're going around smiling from ear to ear," he added.

Earlier yesterday, vice president Joe Biden welcomed Taoiseach Enda Kenny into his home for breakfast before his one-to-one meeting with Mr Obama.


All three then attended a lunch on Capitol Hill hosted by House Speaker John Boehner.

And last night, Mr Obama acknowledged the belated holiday festivity, joking: "Today is not in fact St Patrick's Day. We just wanted to prove that America considers Ireland a dear and steadfast friend every day of the year." At last night's banquet, the Taoiseach handed Mr Obama his certificate saying: "These are very rare. As rare as the man himself."

During the speeches the president recalled last May's whistle-stop tour of Dublin and Offaly.

"We are all proud peoples who share more than sprawling family trees. We are peoples who share an unshakeable faith, an unbending commitment to our fellow man, and a resilient and audacious hope," Mr Obama said.

"That's why I say of Ireland tonight what I said in Dublin last May, this little country that inspires the biggest things -- its best days are still ahead."