Today, of course, is the day of the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States and a day of celebration and renewal for our friends across the ocean. It is, however, also a day of great excitement in Ireland. Barack Obama’s great great great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, is believed to have left the West Coast of Ireland in 1850 for the United States where, like so many other Irish emigrants, he settled, struggled and worked to become a part of American society. The Kearney family originated from Moneygall in County Offaly, pictured to the right (Ancestry.com report). (photo credit)
Although there is legitimate concern for the impact of the Obama Presidency on Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland from American firms (Irish Times report), there is also a great sense of pride in the inauguration of someone who—among so many other things—adds to the list of Irish-American presidents. This sense of pride and excitement is made all the more vibrant by the fact that Obama is, of course, not only (or even primarily) an Irish-American. He is, as someone said to me in Atlanta on the night of the election, ‘the son of every person, every creed, and every race’. Even though our ‘claim’ on Obama is an incredibly slight one, people being who they are there is quite a bit of focus on Obama’s Irish heritage today in Ireland—the national broadcaster, RTÉ, is broadcasting a popular morning radio show (The Tubridy Show) from Moneygall; people everywhere are enjoying the web-hit There’s No-One as Irish as Barack Obama, and Inauguration parties are taking place in private homes and restaurants all over the country. We plan to enjoy Inauguration Day here in Ireland and our hope is that all of our friends in the US enjoy it too and that President Obama can steer the Union through the next four difficult years (if not eight…!).
(Obama badge photo credit)