DUBLIN â€”Â President Obama lifted the spirits of Ireland’s 4.5 million economically depressed people Monday with an inspirational message of hope reminiscent of his 2008 campaign.
In return, Obama received a worshipfulÂ reception similar to those he got throughoutÂ Europe in the early days of hisÂ administration.
He was fawned over by 25,000 people inÂ downtown Dublin and a more intimate groupÂ in Moneygall â€” home to “my grandfather’sÂ grandfather,” as the president put it.
The sessions proved a satisfying start toÂ Obama’s six-day, four-nation European trip,Â made even more of a sprint by the trajectoryÂ of a volcanic plume from Iceland that sentÂ the president and his entourage scurrying
forÂ Great Britain ahead of schedule.
As Irish actorÂ Brendan Gleeson put it,Â paraphrasing an Obama line: “Bloody sureÂ we can!”
Gleeson’s countrymen were sorely in need ofÂ a lift because of government austerityÂ measures put in place to bring down theÂ nation’s out-of-control debt. Unemployment
hovers near 15%, salaries are being slashedÂ and pensions cut. Obama needed a lift afterÂ watching his early stratospheric poll ratingsÂ drop amid budget battles of his own with
resilient Republicans in Congress.
The president did his part by reminding hisÂ Dublin audience what Ireland has providedÂ theÂ United States over more than twoÂ centuries â€” from signatures inked onÂ founding documents to blood shed in gallant battles to sweat produced in buildingÂ America.
“Never has a nation so small inspired soÂ much in another,” Obama said. “This littleÂ country that inspires the biggest things â€”Â your greatest days are still ahead.”
Despite the huge crowd in Dublin â€”Â reminiscent of Obama’s speeches in Berlin inÂ 2008 and Prague in 2009 â€” the president’sÂ most touching moments came in tinyÂ Moneygall, population 296, where his great-
great-great grandfatherÂ Falmouth Kearney lived before fleeing the Irish famine in 1850.
Together with first ladyÂ Michelle Obama, theÂ president kissed and hugged scores ofÂ residents before pausing at Ollie Hayes’ pubÂ for the requisite pint of Guinness. He drankÂ about three-fourths of it and later remarked,
“I feel even more at home after that pint that IÂ had.”
To read more, visit:Â http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-05-23-Obama-Ireland-visit_n.htm#
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