Moneygall goes Obama-rama

Details of the visit of US President Barack Obama to Moneygall in South Offaly are expected very soon, the US Embassy has informed Offaly County Council. And whilst the people of Moneygall await the firm plans, there is huge and growing excitement in the village. "There's great excitement in the area, great anticipation," said Cllr Peter Ormond. "We're having a public meeting in Moneygall on Friday night (today) because people want to have an input into what's happening." Offaly County Council staff are out sweeping roads and repairing footpaths, the OPW has been down on security detail and locals themselves have been cleaning up the village. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase Offaly to the world," added Cllr Ormond. "We have journalists ringing from all over the world, people sending presents, Dulux paint gave us free paint for all the houses in the village. It's all happening in Moneygall." Cllr Ormond added that once Mr Obama was elected as US president, the people of Moneygall were confident that he would visit the village. US Ambassador Dan Rooney visited Offaly and Moneygall last year and has spoken of Obama's desire to visit the Emerald Isle to find out more about his roots. "When he was first nominated it was a bit of fun, but once he got elected the Embassy got involved and certainly we've been confident he'd visit since then," he added. Cllr Ormond added that while it would have been wonderful to have Obama visit while Brian Cowen was still Taoiseach, life goes on, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be welcomed to Offaly as well. Mr Obama announced his intention to visit Ireland and Offaly when Taoiseach Enda Kenny presented him with the traditional bowl of shamrock on St Patrick's Day last week. "I intend to come to Ireland in May, and I'm expecting to go not only to all the famous sites, but also to go to Moneygall, where my great-great-great-great-great grandfather hails from," he said. In a reference to some people who question the president's birthplace, Mr Obama added: "Two years into my presidency, some are still bent on peddling rumors about my origins, so today I want to put all those rumors to rest. It is true my great-great-great-grandfather really was from Ireland. It's true. Moneygall, to be precise. I can't believe I have to keep pointing this out."