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Obama-mania in Irish village for prodigal son's return

[ 2011-05-19 10:50]     字号 [] [] []  
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A tiny Irish village is busily redecorating and putting up the Stars and Stripes to prepare for the return of the prodigal son: US President Barack Obama.

Obama is expected to make a brief visit on Monday to Moneygall, little more than a cluster of pebble-dashed houses, a few shops and a pub, to see where his great-great-great grandfather on his mother's side, Falmouth Kearney, hailed from.

In 1850, with Ireland ravaged by famine, the 19-year-old cobbler's son left for the new world, arriving in New York before settling in Ohio.

Now the one-strip village in County Offaly can hardly wait to welcome Obama during his visit to Ireland.

Henry Healy, a soft-spoken plumbing firm accounts manager, has a special reason for looking forward to meeting the president - he is Obama's eighth cousin.

"It is a personal visit for the president to come back to Moneygall, so you've got to see the people and it would be a waste to visit if he failed to get to greet the people of the village.

"It's a trek home to see where his ancestors came from," the 26-year-old said.

The link to Moneygall was discovered in 2007. Healy was invited by Irish-American Democrats to attend Obama's inauguration in 2009 and he hopes to meet his distant cousin this time - although he admits there is little family resemblance.

"I don't think I resemble him at all. I've seen my face superimposed onto his but no, I don't think so," he said.

Moneygall - or Muine Gall in Gaelic, which translates as "Foreigners' Thicket" - is pulling out all the stops, with buildings being frantically spruced up for the occasion.

Surrounded by deep green pastures, the village sits beneath typically overcast Irish skies, with the smell of smoke in the moist air and strings whipping against the newly erected flagpoles.

Obama is expected to pop into Ollie Hayes' pub.

A bust of the 44th US president sits on the bar and his face adorns posters on the walls.

The pub can hold 290 people - almost big enough for all of Moneygall's 300 residents.

Across the road is a newly established T-shirt shop, featuring a "What's the craic, Barack?" garment in the window.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Obama-mania in Irish village for prodigal son's return

About the broadcaster:

Obama-mania in Irish village for prodigal son's return

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.