Irish Village of Moneygall Welcomes Hometown Hero, Barack Obama

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Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

In 1850, a 19-year-old shoemaker named Falmouth Kearney left the small village of Moneygall, Ireland, for the United States. He had humble ambitions: To live in a country where there was food to eat, and to produce a line of descendants that would one day culminate with America's first black president. The latter goal seemed fairly unlikely at the time, and Kearney hesitated to share it with his contemporaries, who found it quite disturbing. But his dreams were realized when his great-great-great grandson Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Today, Obama has returned to Moneygall in the first leg of a six-day trip that will also bring him to England, France and Poland.

It's fair to say that the town is pretty excited. According to MSNBC, they've been "applying fresh coats of paint to their homes, patching up the roads and hurriedly building a coffee shop called — what else? — Obama Cafe." Irish Central reports that "[t]he local newspaper has changed its name to the Obama Independent," an "Irish dance group called the Obama Stepdancers ... are busy practising their steps," and hundreds of American flags have been "set up on each side of the one street that goes through town."

Also, the village's best-selling T-shirt is one emblazoned with the words "What's the Crack Barack," which is an Irish saying, and not a tactless reference to Obama's admitted past drug use.

Obama in Ireland to discover his Irish roots [MSNBC]
Moneygall makes merry as Obama visit nears---little town that could gets ready for big day [Irish Central]