Ireland's US ambassador is expected to speak with President Barack Obama within weeks about a possible visit to his ancestral home in Co Offaly, it emerged last night.
The American embassy in Dublin confirmed that Dan Rooney would travel to Moneygall tomorrow for a trip that has sparked fresh hopes of a visit from the world's most powerful man.
The top diplomat and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers American football team is likely to brief Mr Obama about the small village (population 299) where his third great-grandfather Fulmuth Kearney grew up, according to the embassy. “They speak every couple of weeks, so he'll see him after Christmas at some stage and it's something he might raise with him,” said a spokesman.
Villagers are planning an afternoon of traditional Irish music and dancing for the ambassador in Ollie's pub, where they partied the night away when America elected its first black President last year.
It is expected he will then be taken to the site where Fulmuth, the son of a shoemaker, lived just off the dusty main street which is now the Dublin to Limerick road.
The US embassy said there was a special significance to this trip by Mr Rooney, who will travel around Ireland during his tenure as ambassador.
“Absolutely, he wants to go and see it,” said a spokesman.
“The ambassador has always said that he was hoping the President would get here before the end of his first term, but nothing has been scheduled as of yet. If the ambassador is down there looking, if the President is coming, then he would be recommending they go to Offaly.”
The ambassador said Mr Obama was very interested in his Irish roots and wanted to travel to Ireland.