SEARCH

Entries in Irish (3)

Monday
May232011

Before 25,000, Obama Celebrates Irish Ancestry

File photo. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)(DUBLIN) -- "My name is Barack Obama of the Moneygall Obamas. I’ve come home to find the apostrophe that we've lost somewhere along the way," President Obama -- or O'Bama as he's known in Ireland --  said Monday from the College Green in Dublin.

After a visit to his ancestral hometown, the president gave an address to 25,000 people in downtown Dublin, embracing his Irish roots, including the language. "Some wise Irish man or woman once said that broken Irish is better than clever English.  So here goes." Obama said first in Irish then repeated in English: "I am happy to be in Ireland."

"We feel very much at home," the president said, joking, "I feel even more at home after that pint that I had. Feel even warmer."

Obama used much of his speech to celebrate the bond that ties Americans and the Irish, as evidenced by his own great, great, great grandfather who immigrated to the United States in 1850. 

"It was remarkable to see the small town where a young shoemaker named Falmouth Kearney, my great-great-great grandfather -- my grandfather's grandfather -- lived his early life," Obama said, recalling how earlier Monday he was shown the records of Kearney's birth and his birth home. "He left during the Great Hunger, as so many Irish did, to seek a new life in the New World.  He traveled by ship to New York, where he entered himself into the records as a laborer.  He married an American girl from Ohio. They settled in the Midwest. They started a family."

The president said this is a familiar story because it's one lived and cherished by Americans of all backgrounds.

"It's integral to our national identity.  It's who we are: a nation of immigrants from all around the world."

The president said that his family member -- like so many other immigrants -- left without knowing what lies ahead, holding on to hope. The president said that this has led to a better life for the next generation.

"We call it the American dream.  It's the dream that Falmouth Kearney was attracted to when he went to America.  It's a dream that drew my own father to America from  a small village in Africa.  It's a dream that we carried forward, sometimes through stormy waters, sometimes at great cost, for more  than two centuries."

The president said that Ireland and America inspire each other, the stories of both countries intertwined.

"Irish signatures are on our founding documents.  Irish blood was spilled on our battlefields.  Irish sweat built our great cities.  Our spirit is eternally refreshed by Irish story," the president said also referencing former Presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy both with Irish ancestry, "So you can say there's always been a little green behind the red, white and blue."

The president told the audience that the message he hopes they will keep with them today is, "'is feidir linn,'" Obama said, the Irish translation of his former campaign slogan, which he translated in English, "'Yes we can.'"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Luck O' The Irish: Obama Motorcade Limo Gets Stuck

File photo. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)(DUBLIN) -- The lead limousine in President Obama's Ireland motorcade unexpectedly bottomed out coming out of a driveway in Dublin, briefly stalling the motorcade.

Local European cameras on the street outside the U.S. Embassy caught the scene as puzzled U.S. Secret Service agents emerged from the vehicle to find that the steep slope of the driveway had caught the heavily armored vehicle between its wheels, making it impossible for the car to move forward or back.

"Occupants were relocated into other vehicles," USSS spokesman Robert Novy in Washington told ABC News.

President Obama, riding in a second limousine was not affected and the rest of the motorcade left the embassy by a different exit.

The Secret Service has not explained how the first limousine was freed from the Dublin driveway.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

President Obama's Irish Eyes Smile in Ancestral Hometown

Irish Government - Pool /Getty Images(MONEYGALL, Ireland) -- President Obama Monday visited the town of his ancestors, the tiny town of Moneygall, about 90 miles from Dublin, to learn more about his family heritage and to pursue a perfect pint.

"The first time I had Guinness is when I came to the Shannon airport. We were flying into Afghanistan and so stopped in Shannon," the president said as he hoisted a pint of Guinness in a Moneygall pub. "It was the middle of the night. And I tried one of these and I realized it tastes so much better here than it does in the States...What I realized was, is that you guys are -- You're keeping all the best stuff here!"

The last time a U.S. president was so effusively welcomed to Ireland as a favorite was 1963 when President John Kennedy traveled there and called it "the best four days of his life." Almost 50 years later, another president with Irish roots is receiving the warm welcome.

The president's journey to Moneygall began in 2007 when American genealogist Megan Slovenyak discovered the connection on Obama's maternal side.

"I had no idea what his heritage would be. I was curious about how far back you would go to find an immigrant," Slovenyak said. "Because we tend to elect people with deep colonial roots in America. And so I was curious about that. And so the first immigrant, the most recent one I encountered was Falmouth Kearney, who was his third grandfather who happened to be from Ireland.  And as an Irish American I was pretty tickled about that."

Slovenyak sent her information to Moneygall, to Canon Stephen Neill who was able to track the connection in the registries of the Templeharry Anglican Church here. And indeed, Neill found records of the baptism of President Obama's great, great, great grandfather Falmouth Kearney, the son of shoemaker Joseph Kearney.

"I was thrilled," Neill tells ABC News. "A shiver went down my spine."

Moneygall has become for Obama what Crawford, Texas was for George W. Bush -- a small unknown town in the middle of nowhere transformed into a tourist attraction.  Obama's ancestral home on the main road in Moneygall -- rebuilt after the Kearneys left Ireland -- is now one of many tourist stops in the tiny town. On the bar at Ollie Hayes' Pub sits a bust of the president; on the wall hang a 2008 Obama-Biden campaign poster and a picture of a smiling Obama hoisting a Guinness.

While by some measures the president is only 3 percent Irish, that hasn't stopped Moneygall -- a town of just 298 people -- from going all out to welcome the president. In preparation for Monday’s visit, the town was scrubbed clean, painted and repaved. American flags and Obama souvenirs -- T-shirts, pens, hats, buttons -- are everywhere.

President Obama greeted Henry Healy, 26, with a warm hug. The shy, unassuming accountant is Obama's 8th cousin and has thus become a local celebrity.

Healy hopes Moneygall –- a town that has suffered tremendously from Ireland's severe economic problems -- will change with all the attention.

"At the end of the day I keep emphasizing that it is the village of Moneygall that the president has chosen to come [visit], not to see me or anyone in particular," he said. "It is to come back and see his ancestry.  And I'm just delighted to play some part of this good news story."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio