President Sheen returns to his 'holy land'
A US president rolled into Ireland yesterday, proudly boasting he was "back home".
This time, however, it was not the gun-toting George Bush, but instead the peace-loving, liberal Martin Sheen - aka US President Josiah Bartlet, star of the smash-hit series 'The West Wing'.
Sheen and an entourage of five brothers, touched down for a reunion with relatives in the homeland of his mother near Borrisokane in Co Tipperary.
Despite his weariness from a 10-hour flight from Los Angeles, the star excitedly proclaimed that the quiet Shannonside area of Kilbarron and Terryglass is his "holy land". "I have been here over a dozen times and I love every last minute of it. I tell people back in the States that I am going to my holy land and they know exactly what I am talking about," he said.
"The first thing I get when I come to any door here is a welcome. I consider this my home. It is my favourite place in the whole world."
This is no plastic-paddyism from the famous actor - he is the proud bearer of an Irish passport.
"I am an Irish citizen," he said, brandishing the passport he is entitled to thanks to his Irish mother, Mary Ann Sullivan.
"It's the one I use everywhere I go, particularly the Middle East," the outspoken anti-war campaigner joked.
Sheen was accompanied by his sons, movie stars Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen. The family is back in Ireland for a special celebration on Thursday evening when a Mass will commemorate his late mother.
Yesterday his first port of call was to his cousin Ann Sullivan's Borrisokane home, some five miles from the quaint village of Terryglass where the Sheen/Estevez entourage will be based during its week-long stay.
Sheen arrived ahead of schedule at 3pm armed with his own piece of America - Southern Fried chicken, fries and Coke.
"I just didn't want to put anyone out," he explained, entering the house with his grandson Taylor (son of Emilio Estevez) and long-time friend and actor/director Matt Clarke.
"That's his way. He is a very humble man and has always been that way. Any time he has been here he wanted as little fuss as possible and we oblige him," Mrs Sullivan said.
An ardent opponent of current US international policy, Mr Sheen is particularly outspoken against the Bush administration in relation to the war on Iraq and Afghanistan.
For the moment, however, his vitriol for the other president was exchanged for the tranquility of his Shannonside "home".
"This is a very special place for me and my family and a huge part of me will always belong to this area," Sheen said.