Hopes For Obama Return To Moneygall

Thursday, 12 January 2017

PLANS FOR A RETURN to Moneygall by US President Barack Obama have been confirmed, after the outgoing US Ambassador to Ireland said the President plans to show his daughters his ancestral home in Ireland.

The plans were confirmed by the outgoing US ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley after he spoke to President Obama last Wednesday.

Mr O'Malley is due to vacate his post on January 20th when Donald Trump is inaugurated and speaking on RTE radio last weekend he said the President plans to return to Ireland.

'The last sentence that the President said to me on Wednesday when we were saying goodbye was, "Please tell 'em I'm coming",' Ambassador O'Malley told Marian Finucane.

'I think that's the President's way of saying informally that you'll probably see him again. My guess is in the coming year or so,' the outgoing Ambassador said.

Moneygall, which was forever transformed after President Obama visited the tiny Offaly village, confirmed as his ancestral home, on May 23rd 2011, now boasts an ultramodern motorway service station, named the Obama Plaza and incorporating a very impressive Visitor Centre commemorating the historic visit.

Last year international media reported that sources close to the President said it's almost certain he would return to Ireland before the end of his Presidency and that date will most likely be set for mid-March 2016 - but unfortunately that visit never transpired.

At the time President Obama's eighth cousin and regular White House visitor on St Patrick's Day, Henry Healy, told the Tribune he would be specially delighted to celebrate the national holiday in Ireland with President Obama for a change, rather than in Washington.

Henry, who travelled to the States for the recent General Election which saw Donald Trump elected, was in New York at the convention centre where Hilary Clinton would have made her acceptance speech had she won.

The building, which was equipped with a glass ceiling that was planned to shatter as part of the celebrations, never held the event and Henry instead went to a nearby pub where he watched the election results conclude.

However, the disappointment of seeing Hilary Clinton lose out for Henry has been tempered with renewed hope of meeting his eighth cousin on Irish soil once again.

'If it happens - we'll definitely be ready,' he told this newspaper enthusiastically from Moneygall, where news of a possible return created a buzz at the weekend.

'It's no news to us that he wants to come back here and it would be a great pleasure to show the whole family the President's ancestral home if that was possible,' Henry said.

'We are always hopeful and we're always ready if the President ever does decide to come back to his ancestral home village,' Henry said, adding that it would be a great opportunity for the President to see the Obama Plaza, which was named after him and now offers employment to so many local people and is a very popular attraction for US visitors passing through the area.

'The Visitor Centre documents the visits of several American Presidents to Ireland and it would be a huge opportunity for the President to see how one of the largest employers in the area named the facility after him to promote the great links between here and the United States,' Henry said.


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