US President Barack Obama charmed the Irish public yesterday, sipping Guiness, discovering long-lost relatives and telling the people that despite economic struggles the country would be soon be back on its feet.
In the tiny town of Moneygall, from where his great-great-great grandfather Falmouth Kearney worked as a shoemaker bfore emigrating to New York in 1950. Obama also downed a pint of Guiness and met his eighth cousin, 26-year-old Henry Healy, an accountant.
The president later said Healy was now known as Henry the Eighth.
Pub landlord Ollie Hayes told reporters: “It’s not everyday the US president drops in for a pint.”
Anne Maher, a teacher form Moneygall also had a close encounter with the world’s most powerful man.
“He held my hand, he pulled me towards him and kissed my cheek. I’m not going to wash that cheek for a lifetime – and my husband isn’t getting near it either,” Maher said.
Later, gazing out over a massive crowd, the president proclaimed Ireland would overcome a crisis which saw it go cap-in-hand to the International Monetary Fund and European Union for a bailout by roaring “Is Feidir Linn”, his famed slogan “Yes We Can” in Gaelic.
“Yours is a history frequently marked by the greatest of trials and the deepest of sorrows, but yours is also a history of proud and defiant endurance,” Mr Obama said, noting America had also endured an economic crisis.
“And Ireland, as trying as these times are, I know our future is still as big and as bright as our children expect it to be.
“If anyone ever says otherwise, if anybody tells you that your problems are too big or your challenges are too great, that we can’t do something, that we shouldn’t even try, think about all that we’ve done together.
“If they keep on arguing with you, just respond with a simple creed, Is Feidir Linn – yes we can. Yes we can.”