Obama invited to visit Cork

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has been officially invited to Cork by University College Cork (UCC) who sent an invite to the White House on Monday.

It is hoped that the president will officially launch a human rights lecture series, and unveil a statue on the campus, in honour of one of his political heroes — anti-slavery leader Frederick Douglass, during his official visit to Ireland in May.

UCC President Dr Michael Murphy confirmed yesterday that an official invitation had been sent to the president.

But a UCC spokesperson declined to comment further, saying the process is at the very early stages.

Frederick Douglass was one of the leaders of the abolitionist movementin America, and spent time in Cork during the Famine where he made three very important public appearances which attracted thousands of people.

President Obama mentioned Douglass’s legacy during his St Patrick’s Day address at the White House last week, fuelling hopes that he will include Cork in his Irish visit.

Four US Congressmen have already urged the President to visit UCC for the Frederick Douglass initiative.

The president’s first port of call when he arrives in Ireland is sure to be Moneygall, Co Offaly, the home of his ancestor Falmouth Kearney a shoemaker who settled in Ohio.

Obama’s mother Ann Dunham is believed to be a descendant of Mr Kearney, who emigrated from the tiny village in 1850 when he was just 19.

Henry Healy a local in Moneygall has traced his roots to the Obama-Kearney lineage and said that the president can be assured of a fond welcome.

Mr Healy, who travelled to Washington for the president’s inauguration at the invitation of Irish-Americans, said the ancestral home is still standing, as is the schoolhouse and church.

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