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Sláinte – Barack Obama Embraces Moneygall Roots

The latest volcanic eruption in Iceland forced a reluctant US President Barack Obama to leave Ireland on board Air Force One last night, for his state visit to England. However, this was not before the President had embraced his Irish roots in Moneygall, and the Irish nation had thoroughly embraced him and his very beautiful wife Michelle.

Yesterday despite concerns about the Irish weather, the Obama’s flew by Marine One helicopter to the village of Moneygall, on the Tipperary / Offaly border. As the world and I watched events unfold a few lines from the Irish writer Oliver Goldsmith‘s ‘The Deserted Village ‘ sprang to mind:-

And, as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue, Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations passed, Here to return-and die at home at last.

This giant of a man who spoke with such eloquence, displaying both Irish empathy and Irish humour, had now finally arrived to embrace his Irish roots and this visit wasn’t for just for votes, this was personal.

Sláinte ("Health") President Obama with First Lady Michelle and Mayor J.Kennedy in Moneygall. - Picture: AP Source: AP

Later while downing a pint of Guinness in Moneygall, latter a small central Irish village, where his great-great-great-grandfather once lived and worked as a shoemaker, we knew he had arrived not just to reaffirm the bonds of affection between the United States and Ireland, but genuinely to visit his past. “My name is Barack Obama, of the Moneygall Obamas and I’ve come home to find the apostrophe we lost somewhere along the way,” he humorously informed over 40,000, mainly young people, who waited for hours to welcome a man whom they truly respected and a man for whom they felt was slowly changing, for the better, the way this world does business.

Local Church of Ireland minister, Canon Stephen Neill confirms: “They were very much at ease here and he was very excited about the official records. The President grabbed his cameraman and said, You got to take a picture of this.

In paying tribute to the extremely efficient manner that members of An Garda Siochana and the Security Forces oversaw this Presidential event, along with Queen Elizabeth’s visit and Dr. Garret Fitzgerald’s funeral, North Tipperary’s Deputy Noel Coonan stated: “The time that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama made available to the public was on a scale that was unprecedented and totally unexpected. It was great to observe the huge congregation of brilliant smiles on the faces of the thousands who were present in Moneygall.

Thurles born North Tipperary Mayor, John Kennedy, one of the US Presidents welcoming committee in Moneygall, later stated “The economy needs a lift, the people need a lift, and this brings a huge lift to the borders of Tipperary. There are millions of Americans who trace their ancestry back to this beautiful island not just through politics, but also through the arts, culture, ancestry and of course commerce. This visit is that lift.

Ireland has just lowered the Union Jacks that greeted Queen Elizabeth during her landmark visit to Ireland last week. Obama now cited that this was the vital evidence of the willingness and search for progress that Ireland and Britain were making, putting the violence known as “The Troubles,” clearly behind us both, moving forward.

The optimistic phrase “Is féidir linn,” the Irish language version of “yes we can,” was as much about America’s future challenges in re-energising America, as it was telling, we, the Irish that we could overcome our own present economic problems if we undertook the necessary sacrifices needed over the next few years.

The Moneygall visit was without doubt the emotional highlight of the Presidents 12-hour visit to Ireland and as he kicks off a six-day tour of Europe that will also take him to Britain, France, and Poland, immersing him in the thorny issues of military campaigns in Libya and other upheaval daily emerging elsewhere in the Arab world, the Ireland nation wish him every success.

Note the simple emotional words of Irish born actor Brendan Gleeson:  “I don’t know about you, I’m fed up looking at the ground. Its time to stand up, breath the air, look around, – What a people.” We must now hope that all the words of wisdom expressed and all the proud feelings we experienced, have somehow been embroidered unto the hearts of each present day Irish inhabitant, for I confidently prophesy, our very future will now depend on each person, each worker’s union and each politician’s personal expression of “real patriotism.” over the next few years.

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