Obama ‘comes home’ to celebrate his Irish ancestry

May 24, 2011

By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

DUBLIN — 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 worshipful reception similar to those he got throughout Europe in the early days of his administration.

He was fawned over by 25,000 people in downtown Dublin and a more intimate group in Moneygall — home to “my grandfather’s grandfather,” as the president put it.

The sessions proved a satisfying start to Obama’s six-day, four-nation European trip, made even more of a sprint by the trajectory of a volcanic plume from Iceland that sent the president and his entourage scurrying
for Great Britain ahead of schedule.

As Irish actor Brendan Gleeson put it, paraphrasing an Obama line: “Bloody sure we can!”

Gleeson’s countrymen were sorely in need of a lift because of government austerity measures put in place to bring down the nation’s out-of-control debt. Unemployment
hovers near 15%, salaries are being slashed and pensions cut. Obama needed a lift after watching his early stratospheric poll ratings drop amid budget battles of his own with
resilient Republicans in Congress.

The president did his part by reminding his Dublin audience what Ireland has provided the United States over more than two centuries — from signatures inked on founding documents to blood shed in gallant battles to sweat produced in building America.

“Never has a nation so small inspired so much in another,” Obama said. “This little country that inspires the biggest things — your greatest days are still ahead.”

Despite the huge crowd in Dublin — reminiscent of Obama’s speeches in Berlin in 2008 and Prague in 2009 — the president’s most touching moments came in tiny Moneygall, population 296, where his great-
great-great grandfather Falmouth Kearney lived before fleeing the Irish famine in 1850.

Together with first lady Michelle Obama, the president kissed and hugged scores of residents before pausing at Ollie Hayes’ pub for the requisite pint of Guinness. He drank about three-fourths of it and later remarked,
“I feel even more at home after that pint that I had.”

To read more, visit: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-05-23-Obama-Ireland-visit_n.htm#


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