Belfast Telegraph

Barack Obama to visit Ireland in May

US president Barack Obama has confirmed he will visit the Republic of Ireland in May.



The US president met Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the White House in Washington as part of the St Patrick's Day celebrations.

Records have revealed that Mr Obama has roots in Ireland as an ancestor was a shoemaker in the village of Moneygall in Co Offaly, whose son Fulmuth Kearney left for the US in 1850.

There is no official date for the visit yet but Mr Obama is due to travel to the UK in late May ahead of a G8 summit of world leaders in France.

Mr Kenny spent his first St Patrick's Day in office meeting Mr Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressional leaders just over a week after being appointed Taoiseach.

Before meeting the President, he attended the Speaker's Lunch on Capitol Hill, hosted by the new Speaker, Republican John Boehner.

The Queen is also expected to make an historic visit to the Irish Republic in May - the first state visit by a British monarch.

Mr Obama's great-great-great grandfather, Mr Kearney, emigrated to the US in the mid 19th century.

But researchers at Trinity College, Dublin, delved further into Mr Obama's past during the presidential campaign to find an ancestral grand uncle was a prominent Dublin businessman in the 1700s.

Wig-maker Michael Kearney brushed shoulders with Ireland's aristocracy on a daily basis and bought and sold property throughout the country.

Mr Obama's political dynasty can also be traced to Kearney, who was heavily involved in the trade politics of Dublin.A White House spokesman said the President deliberately chose St Patrick's Day to make the announcement.

"He (Mr Obama) mentioned he would be seeking the roots of his great-great-great-great grandfather," he said.

"He recognises his ties to Ireland."

The spokesman confirmed that no date had yet been set.

"I think it's really appropriate that he chose St Patrick's Day and that was deliberate - obviously it's out of respect to the (Irish) Prime Minister," he said.

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