Unlikely as it was when we discovered that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father it was nothing compared to the surprise I felt when I heard that Barack Obama was Irish! But it appears he does have Irish ancestry and Falmouth Kearney who emigrated from Moneygall in 1850 when he was 19, was the current President’s great great great grandfather. The President and his wife visited Moneygall, a small town of just 310 people on 23rd May 2011.
There are signs of the link all about the town.
But perhaps the link is not enough to get American, or other, tourists to flock to the town.
Moneygall is in county Offaly, just by junction 23 (is that spooky – that Obama visited on the 23rd?) of the M7.
One reason why the town may not have benefited hugely from the visit is that on the junction is a service area – the Barack Obama Plaza. This was opened in June 2014 and I am sure I read somewhere that it boasts the country’s biggest Supermac’s, Ireland’s leading homegrown burger chain. Don’t go if you are looking to be impressed by its size. But on my way to my talk in Limerick I made my stop here. It is odd that there is an attraction to stopping here – maybe just because of the metre of the name.
Anyway, it does not always pay to be famous – I am not sure how the President would feel about having his name on a litter bin in the car park!