Obama rally for College Green

TENS of thousands are expected to greet President Barack Obama at a free rally in College Green in Dublin next Monday.

The US President will be joined by the First Lady and Taoiseach Enda Kenny and will address the audience at the end of a concert.

The event will be open to members of the public and is free of charge. Tickets will not be required. To facilitate the large number of attendees, gates will open at 2pm at the intersection of Parliament Street and Dame Street, in front of Dublin Castle.

Earlier in the day, Mr Obama and his wife, Michelle will call on President McAleese at the Áras, meet with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and visit the President’s ancestral home, Moneygall.

Residents in the Offaly village queued for up to six hours yesterday to secure a “golden ticket” to see his homecoming.

Henry Healy, a distant relative of Mr Obama, said: “I liken this to his presidential campaign, when he was the underdog,” said Mr Healy. “Then we were the underdogs to secure this visit and both of us are the winners.

“He said he wanted to come to Moneygall and it’s the people of Moneygall he is going to meet.

Mr Obama and his wife are due to touch down in Dublin early on Monday and start their trip with the obligatory meeting with heads of state.

It is expected the couple will then fly by helicopter to the midlands for an hour, which could include a visit to local pub Ollie Hayes.

Obama fever is sweeping the village, with US secret service agents moving in as locals paint their houses and repair footpaths.

Records show Mr Obama’s great-great-great- great-grandfather was a shoemaker in Moneygall and his son, Falmouth Kearney, left for New York in 1850. Although generations have passed, blood ties to the president remain in the guise of Mr Healy.

Meanwhile, the Offaly Independent has cast away tradition and temporarily changed its 119-year-old name to mark the historic visit.

The Obama Independent will go on sale for a one-off special souvenir edition to be published today.

Localman Billy Hayes is marking the occasion with specially designed T-shirts.

He said a batch of Obama Moneygall 2011 T-shirts have been ordered by the US Embassy for officials who will not have time to shop during his visit.


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