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OBAMAS' DALKEY ROCKSTAR WELCOME

IT began with a belt of fresh mountain air – and ended with fish and chips in the company of Bono and his family.

Michelle Obama and her two daughters created a sense of excitement rarely experienced before as their momentous trip to Ireland drew to a close.

The glorious sunshine appeared to be just another member of the Obama camp, accompanying them as they visited picturesque Glendalough before signing off with a trip to Dalkey.

The South Dublin village was anything but sleepy as hundreds lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the family that have captured the hearts of the nation.

holiday

But while a carnival atmosphere built on the streets, Michelle, Malia (14) and Sasha (12) were nestled away in Finnegan's pub on Sorrento Road.

And who better to dine out with than Dalkey's most famous regulars – Bono and his wife Ali Hewson.

The Obama trio shared tales of their Irish holiday with the celebrity couple, who brought along their teenage sons, Elijah and John.

But the U2 frontman was adamant that world politics was firmly off the agenda.

"We talked about everything and nothing. Everyone was in fine form. It was a family chat."

And echoing the view expressed by many women who encountered the First Lady this week, Bono added: "She loves Irish women and it seems Irish women love her."

Arriving at Finnegan's, Bono introduced Michelle (49) to long-time owners Colleen and Dan Finnegan.

"This is the First Lady of America," he said. "Mrs Obama, meet the First Lady of Dalkey."

But there was one question on everyone's lips after the Obamas said their farewells: what did they have to eat and drink?

"It was nothing exotic – just fish and chips," head chef Paul Finnegan told the Herald.

"Actually one of the girls had cottage pie; I think I'm going to have to change it to Obama Pie'."

And following in the footsteps of her husband Barack, it appeared that Michelle couldn't resist a taste of the black stuff.

glasses

According to waitress Jane Daly, several glasses and pints of Guinness were served.

"Michelle only had a sip from a glass of Guinness, but she definitely had some," Ms Daly said.

"There was also wine and the girls drank water. Bono had a pint of Guinness like he normally does."

For the staff and customers of Finnegan's, it was nothing out of ordinary to receive a visit from a well-known figure.

Director Neil Jordan is often seen enjoying a drink in the watering hole that was a favourite of Maeve Binchy.

But this was a visit like none other for the schoolchildren who lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the Obama family.

And there were hundreds of ecstatic faces as the First Lady peered out her car window and waved goodbye.

visitors

It was a sight worth savouring.

Throughout the historic visit, Michelle Obama dispelled any feeling of doom and gloom with her beaming smile.

Even in the sprawling hills of Glendalough, she mesmerised those whom she met.

Tour guide George McClafferty spent more than half an hour showing the Obamas why Glendalough captivates so many of its visitors.

"She said it was a beautiful place and was delighted to have had the opportunity to come here. Of course, I was delighted to have had the opportunity to show her round. It's the most important day of my life," he said.

"They were really charming. I was a bag of nerves. I was standing there trembling as I saw them get out of the car. And as soon as she shook hands with me – she has huge hands – I just started to melt," he said.

noconnor@herald.ie


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