Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Irish village where Obama is ‘one of our own’

It’s just over 3,320 miles from the Oval Office in the White House to Moneygall, Co Offaly, just as there was when the last relative of Barack Obama’s left the village more than 150 years ago.

However last night, all in a packed Ollie Hayes’s bar on the main street were hopeful that the Democratic candidate who they regard as “one of our own” was about to become the 44th US President.

The little village endorsed Obama’s election bid after his Irish roots were recorded back to the region and Ollie Hayes’s bar was transformed into the ‘Irish nerve centre’.

Stars and stripes hung from the windows of the pub and inside it was decorated with red, white and blue balloons with posters declaring ‘Obama ’08’ and ‘Change we can believe in’.

Modest accountant, Henry Healy, is the ninth cousin of the Hawaiian-born politician. The 24-year-old can trace Obama’s connections back to 1760.

“The Healys have lived here since 1750 and in 1760, a Sarah Healy married a Joseph Kearney who was also from Moneygall. Sarah and Joseph would be great grandparents to Fulmouth Kearney. Fulmouth left Moneygall for New York and eventually settled in Ohio and would be Obama’s third great grandfather," explained Henry.

The local Church of Ireland canon, Stephen Neill, is hopeful that Obama will return to the town of his ancestors should he become the next US President.

At the back of Ollie’s pub, Limerick band Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys who achieved fame across the US with their song about Obama’s ancestry provided punters with their very first public airing of their new hit, When President Obama comes back home to Moneygall.

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