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Obamas Roots - Moneygall In Ireland

Updated on October 20, 2014

Barack Obama's Irish Roots Traced Back To Moneygall

The President has been to town - or village...

...and had his pint of Guinness...

...and it's just down the road from me!

Living in rural Ireland, and especially only 8 miles from Moneygall in County Offaly, a new sense of importance has come to this once sleepy, one-horse village that is on a road to no where (since being by-passed by a fast new road earlier this year).

The minute a president decides on paying homage to his roots in the Emerald Isle, it sets everyone from builders and landscapers to decorators and gardeners, into fast track action to transform a designated locality. This had happened on numerous occasions in the past when the likes of Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton visited,

Obama-mania has swept though the area - so let's take a look into what it was all about.

Image from RTE News

Moneygall
Moneygall

Where Is Moneygall?

In the middle of Ireland!

The tiny Irish village of Moneygall is located in County Offaly, close to the Tipperary border. The nearest larger towns are Roscrea to the North East and Nenagh to the South East.

Moneygall is on the the N7 Dublin-Limerick road which has recently been by-passed by the M7.

The population is around just over 300 people, and the village has two pubs, two churches (a Catholic church in the village and a Church of Ireland church just 2km away), a school and a Garda station.

Photo by Rob Hemphill

Moneygall Village

Approx. 300 souls!

Moneygall (Irish: Muine Gall, meaning "foreigners' thicket") in County Offaly Ireland.

As of the General Election in 2011, Moneygall is also part of the North Tipperary voting constituency. At the 2006 census, the village had a population of 298. Moneygall has a Roman Catholic church, five shops, a post office, a national school, a Garda Síochána (Police) station and two pubs. The nearest Church of Ireland Church, Borrisnafarney is located 1.5 miles from the village beside the former Loughton Demense...

Read more from Wikipedia

Obama's Irish Roots

On St Patrick's Day 2011, locals gathered in Ollie Hayes' pub where both American and Irish flags were waving proudly outside, to cheer the long-awaited confirmation that US president Barack Obama would visit the very place from which his ancestor Fulmuth Kearney left for New York in the mid-19th century.

US President Barack Obama's great-great-great grandfather came from Moneygall. Records show that his maternal ancestors lived and worked in the area more than 160 years ago, and worshipped at Templeharry church, four miles from the village. Canon Stephen Neill, the Church of Ireland rector said,

"The whole family left in the 1840s and 1850s. They were shoemakers, which was a reasonable trade, so they weren't driven into emigration but had the opportunity to go and took it."

President Obama's late mother Ann Dunham was a descendant of Fulmouth Kearney, who was Obama's third great-grandfather, and who left the village for New York in 1850 to settle in Ohio.

Ann Dunham, a direct descendant of Joseph Kearney, and Barack Obama, Sr., a Kenyan exchange student met in 1960 and married and had a child, Barack Obama, Jr.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Have a listen to this amusing video about Barack Obama's roots There's No One As Irish As Barack O'Bama by the Corrigan Brothers.

"O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara/There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama/You don't believe me, I hear you say/But Barack's as Irish as JFK/His grandaddy's daddy came from Moneygall/a small Irish village, well known to you all."

From One Eyed Parrot Dance Club

Coming To Have A Pint... - ...of the famous 'black stuff'!

Try To Find Your Ancestors - They may be from Ireland as well!

Former Presidents To Have Visited Ireland

Photo credit John F Kennedy, Presidential Library And Museum

US Presidents have visited Ireland before. John F Kennedy was the first one to do so in 1963 when he spoke to the people of New Ross, Co.Wexford he remarked:

"When my great grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston, he carried nothing with him except two things: a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his great-grandchildren have valued that inheritance."

Then in 1984 Ronald Regan paid a visit to his roots in Ballyporeen, Co.Tipperary.

His great-grandfather, Michael Regan (who changed later the spelling of his name), was baptised in the village in 1829 and lived there until his emigration to London not later than 1851 and ultimately the United States in 1857. President Reagan visited the village on the 3rd of June, 1984 and delivered a speech to its residents, during which he discussed his ancestry and what he called the "Irish-American tradition".

Read more on Reagans Irish visit here...


Photo credit Getty Images

Bill Clinton, who played such a pivotal role in the Northern Ireland peace process in 1995 visited Londonderry when the Troubles were still causing problems. More than 25,000 people turned out to welcome him to their country. He returned on two further occasions in 1998 and again in 2000.

There's No One As Irish As Barack O'Bama - by The Corrigan Brothers

Date Of Visit

23rd May 2011

When Barack Obama returned to his Irish roots on 23rd May 2011, the 300 residents were heavily outnumbered by the US president's own entourage.

One man who still lives in Moneygall is Henry Healy, who also traces his roots back to the Kearneys, making him a distant relation of the president. When Obama was sworn into office in Washington DC. Mr Healy was a guest of his at the ceremony.

Mr Healy commented:

"Our family connection is very distant but we do share the same lineage. Our ancestry is shared by the Healy and the Kearney families way back to 1761. Sarah Healy would be five-eighths grandmother of Barack Obama. I still think it's sort of surreal to say you have some connection to the president of the United States."

Quote from the Guardian.co.uk

Barack Obama: The Road from Moneygall - Superb... riveting ... brilliant

Barack Obama: The Road from Moneygall
Barack Obama: The Road from Moneygall

What makes the book so fascinating is not just the way it brings Obama's Irish ancestors to life.

This is not just the story of one family, it s the story of how America was made, starting before the American Revolution and following the creation of the country by the pioneers who moved out from the east into the frontier to settle the land. It s a story of hardship, courage and great adventure.

 

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Ollie Hayes' pub Moneygall
Ollie Hayes' pub Moneygall

A Pint Awaits Barack...

...but how long will he stay?

21st May 2011

In Ollie Hayes' pub - the only one in the village - a bust of Barack Obama sits on the counter with a pint of the famous black stuff.

The question is, "will the US President make time, and if he does, will he have a pint or even just taste a Guinness when he pops in to Mr. Hayes' small bar?

This village has been brightened up over the past month with a huge effort of painting houses courtesy of the Dulux paint company. Some have been decorated entirely in the US flag depicting stars and stripes.

Weather Was OK - So Was The Pint! - Moneygall will never be the same again

obama pint in moneygall
obama pint in moneygall

23rd May 2011

President Obama's trip to Moneygall could have been in jeopardy because of wet and windy weather conditions. However, Marine One, the president's helicopter touched down as planned on the nearby GAA sports field.

A crowd of about 3,000 ticketed visitors lined the main street as the president and first lady moved along the adoring throng of well-wishers. After a brief visit into the ancestral home and a quick purchase in An Siopa (the shop in Irish) for their daughters and the presidents mother-in-law, it was time to see the inside of the local pub.

Obama said, "What a thrill it is to be here, there are millions of Irish Americans who trace their ancestry back to this beautiful island. Part of why this makes it so special is because the Irish influence on American culture is so powerful in the arts, in politics, in commerce."

Would he have a pint of Guinness or not?

This was a dream come true for the Guinness company, to see the most important person on earth sampling their product, and what's more, announcing to the world how good it was.

After posing for a series of "family photos," Obama turned to the bartender, Ollie Hayes who had poured him a pint of Guinness.

"You tell me when it's properly settled, I don't want to mess this up," Obama said. After he took a big gulp the crowd cheered, he slapped a fifty euro note down on the bar. "I just want you to know, the president pays." The bartender in his excitement forgot to give any change.

Obama told Mr.Hayes that he first had a Guinness during a stopover at Shannon Airport on his way to Afghanistan. "It was the middle of the night, and I tried one of these and I realized it tastes so much better here than in the United States," he said. "You're keeping all the best stuff here."

The world media have made clear that his visit to Moneygall is the highlight of his Irish and indeed his European trip.

Image from RTE News

The Presidential Pint of Guinness

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    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 4 years ago

      Great article, very well done. Thanks for sharing the story.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 5 years ago

      Very cool. I love that Obama is Irish! And enjoyed the Pint!

    • profile image

      Now-Power 6 years ago

      Very Good ! Gave You an Irish Thumbs Up ! You might Enjoy:

      http://www.squidoo.com/workshop/ObamaLuckyCharm

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      A very readable account of the President's Irish connection. Fun reading. I've blessed this lens and will feature it on You've Been Blessed.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 6 years ago

      Wow, how cool is that? But I'm envious of the President as well. I would love to visit Ireland, the land of my forefathers.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      When does he visit Scotland? Great lens.