Powerful son comes home
HE may be the most powerful man in the world but he is right at home in Moneygall where he lifts babies and kisses grannies.
The people of the small Irish village where Barack Obama's third-great grandfather was reared have no airs or graces -- and the US president and first lady fit right in.
Fr Joe Kennedy and his 1,700 parishioners prayed for a dry day but rain threatened to interrupt Mr Obama's arrival on Main Street.
Even former parish priest, Fr Pat Mulcahy's holy water from Lourdes in his pocket failed to keep the hail away.
"Oh, he's never going to walk up in that weather," observes Timmy Talbot as he stands in the crowd. "Sure they'll have to drive him up in the car."
But Mr Obama surprises even his own staff when he braves the miserable Irish weather with his wife.
He stops at the house where his ancestors, the Kearneys, lived until Falmouth left Moneygall and boarded a ship to America in 1850.
The owner of the house, John Donovan, is standing outside with his wife, Clodagh, and their two children, Rachel and Philip when the Obamas arrive.
"Let's go in," Mr Obama is clearly heard saying as the two families stepped inside the original Kearney homestead.
Once the rain eases, Mr Obama is back on the newly re-surfaced footpath -- and the Secret Service have a tough job on their hands.
They never saw him work a crowd like he this before. It's out-of-character for Mr Obama to be so affectionate on his walkabouts.
He has time for almost everybody who can reach him on the short walk up Main Street.
The snipers are working overtime checking the US president's every move from the rooftops while the CIA are constantly alert and listening to their ear-pieces.
"How long have you been waiting here?" Mr Obama asks a rain-soaked Moira Shepphard (66) as he leans into the crowd to hug her.
Mrs Shepphard -- one of the first in the queue at 9am on May 23 -- has been standing more than six hours for this moment.
It is as if the US president knows Moria is one of his greatest advocates in Moneygall -- and that she has kept the party going in Ollie Hayes's bar for the past four weeks.
His wide smile turns into a hearty laugh as Mr Obama gets his answer from the most straight-talking woman in the village. "I'm waiting for you for the past four years. Welcome to Moneygall," she says.
"Thank you, mam," he chuckles.
First Lady Michelle then comes over to throw her arms around her, too.
Moira has been at every occasion in Ollie's pub since Mr Obama's Irish ancestry was first discovered in 2007 when he was a senator.
When she found out he had Moneygall roots, Moira knew she had to meet the man.
So determined to make her mark, she even emailed US TV superstar Oprah from the pub one night to tell the story of Moneygall after she enlisted the help of Henry Healy. "I never heard back.”
The US president is set on kissing and hugging as many people as he can in Moneygall.
After Moira, it is on to her sister-in-law, Deirdre, for more squeezes. And even Moira's son-in-law, Noel, who previously shook the hand of former US President Bill Clinton adds Barack Obama to his list.
Next up is Tracey Martin who was first in the queue with Moira and Maggie Carroll. Wearing her black puffy coat to shield her from the rain, she wraps her arms around Barack Obama who closes his eyes as he hugs her tightly.