Belfast Telegraph

Pride and jubilation in Obama crowd

Tears were shed in pride and jubilation as President Barack Obama enchanted a nation in a powerful outdoor address.

Waving US flags they shouted "Obama, Obama", as the most powerful man in the world temporarily banished Ireland's economic worries as he took to the stage in central Dublin.

In a speech peppered by spontaneous applause and cheers, his eloquence gripped the weary but excited onlookers who queued for hours to hear him speak outside the historic Bank of Ireland building in College Green.

Emma Douglas, a primary school teacher from north Dublin, rubbed red eyes as the president drew massive cheers and applause from 25,000 people for his closing quip - "Is Feidir Linn", Irish for "Yes we can".

"It was unbelievable, absolutely. I just think it's so amazing that he speaks from the heart without any notes. I've never seen this before in my lifetime and I don't think I ever will again."

They hung out of windows, stood on crash barriers and gazed in adoration as he delivered a 24-minute speech that touched on the "bonds of affection" between Ireland and the US, his own ancestral links to the island, the peace process, and, perhaps most importantly for those present, his belief that Ireland could recover.

Crowds weaved the length of Dame Street stretching from Christ Church Cathedral to the Bank of Ireland, where Bill Clinton wooed crowds 16 years ago.

US flags hung from windows and fluttered alongside the tricolour on the Bank of Ireland building. Those too far from the stage gazed at big screens, many applauding and shaking their heads with smiles on their faces as he spoke. Some dabbed away tears, the emotion of the historic evening too much for them.

The president stepped from the stage flanked by US secret service agents and plunged into the crowds to shake hands and greet people who queued from the early hours. He did not disappoint, even taking a mobile phone from one woman, Jessica Walls, to chat to her mother, Glynis Walls, much to her delight.

The public event included performances from Jedward, Westlife, Imelda May, Coronas and Sharon Shannon

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