This summer, Liam and I were taken on a tour of sites connected to President Obama’s Irish roots with two of the people credited with tracing his lineage to Ireland. Canon Stephen Neill, Church of Ireland rector in the Moneygall area, along with genealogist Megan Smolenyak, showed us the sites, shared the old records that tied Obama to Moneygall, and treated us to tea at Ollie Hayes Pub (it was a little too early for a pint).
Moneygall is a speck of a town on the busy N7 route between Dublin and Limerick (and just happens to be a few miles from Liam’s family in Tipperary). Aside from the locals, the main street doesn’t see visitors.
After pulling into town, I was worried I misunderstood the spot where I was to meet Megan and Stephen. I stopped in a shop with a big glass window overlooking the street and asked, “Any chance you’ve seen an American woman with very blond hair walk by today?”
“Hmmm. There was a woman I didn’t know come through, but she was dark. There were two men in a silver car, they went into the shop across the street — couldn’t tell you who they were. Was she in a red car? There was a red car – didn’t see who was inside.” She paused for a beat then asked, “Have you seen the Obama sign? Just went up a fortnight ago.”
The folks in Moneygall indeed know what’s going on in their town.
The town is certainly embracing their Obama connection, and the American Ambassador to Ireland has taken an interest in the village as well… a possible hint that a presidential visit might be in the cards for Moneygall.
After our time in Moneygall, Megan and I couldn’t resist sharing what we learned with the rest of the world. The end result is a downloadable brochure that includes photos and a map of the Obama-related sites. We also included information about other U.S. Presidents with ties to Ireland. We hope you enjoy this look at genealogy.
Sources: Canon Stephen Neill, Offaly County Council, Shannon Development and www.honoringourancestors.com/barack-obama.html