TODAY THE PRESIDENT of the United States begins his first ever visit to Ireland, which will include an address to thousands on College Green in Dublin and a trip to the home of his ancestors in Moneygall, Co Offaly.
TheJournal.ie brings you a timeline of the day’s events as they happen:
19.03 – Now that the Obamas are leaving the country – via dinner with the US ambassador – we are wrapping up this timeline on the visit. Thanks for being with us and remember: Is Feidir Linn.
18.59 - The White House has confirmed that Michelle and Barack Obama are flying to London tonight. Gardai have ensured the safe dispersal of most of the crowd on College Green by removing barriers from side streets as soon as Obama left the stage.
18.23 – RTE’s David Davin Power has been tweeting that it is expected Barack and Michelle Obama will NOT stay the night in Dublin but will have to fly to London tonight in case he gets stranded here by the ash cloud. Ah go on, Barack, stay on a while.
18.19 - And it turns out that Ireland, ‘IS FEIDIR LINN!’ Oh yes, we can. The crowd goes wild.
18.05 – Barack Obama’s cupla focail went down well at the start of a strong speech about the dreams of forefathers, emigration, creating a new country and returning home. See the highlight quotes on @TheJournal_live.
17.49 - Of course in the meantime, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will get to speak for ten minutes. He has just introduced Barack and Michelle Obama on stage.
17.42 – We will also be tweeting the best bits of Barack Obama’s speech on our live Twitter account – click through to here if you’re interested in keeping an eye on that>
17.32 – We hand over to the hilarious (Not) Cardinal Brady for the next while as he liveblogs for TheJournal.ie from backstage at College Green… Click through to here to read his liveblog>
17.27 – Imelda May, Westlife, Stephen Rea, Brendan Gleeson, Ryan Tubridy – they’ve all been on stage at College Green already to honour Barack Obama. (Who’s not there yet).
16.32 - …Aaaaand, they’re back at the Moneygall GAA pitch to hop on Marine One and chopper it to Dublin. Gardai are now warning in Dublin that the area around College Green, Lord Edward Street and Christchurch are filled to capacity and that people who are not already there should NOT make their way into town for the concert.
16.15 – After enjoying their drink, Barack and Michelle are back out onto the street for hugs, handshakes and, yes, a third baby-holding session.
15.59 - Obama reveals that it is not his first pint of Guinness. He tells Ollie Hayes that he had one during a stopover at Shannon on the way to Afghanistan.
15.56 – Diageo score a second publicity coup in a week – Queen Elizabeth II didn’t drink her pint of Guinness but Barack goes straight in for the kill. Michelle isn’t far behind with a glass.
Pic: Maxwells/PA Wire/Press Association Images
15.51 – A short speech by Obama in the pub about the influence of Irish culture on America is greeted by ‘Shush!’, shortly followed by ‘Yahoo!’. A trad music session kicks in. He poses for a group family photo with all his Moneygall relatives.
15.47 - The floor inside Hayes’s pub has been buffed to a high shine by the look of things. Obama is invited to inspect the parish records of Shinrone and Moneygall, which show details of his ancestors. Canon Stephen Neill, who helped uncover the US president’s Irish roots, looks proudly on.
15.36 - Barack Obama goes off-road again to shake some more hands before he heads into Ollie Hayes’s pub.
15.31 - The rain ends what the US secret service guys couldn’t as shower sends Michelle and Barack Obama away from their epic meet-and-greet and into the old homestead of Barack’s ancestor Falmouth Kearney (Or at least, the house that stands on the site where the original home stood). And then onto ‘An Siopa Beag’.
15.20 - The president reaches to take a second baby from the crowd. The baby is less impressed this time and cries before he’s given back.
15.17 – The couple take their time moving along the street, hugging and shaking hands with the locals.
15.16 - Is he… could he be… Yes, Barack Obama, President of the United States, has posed with a baby.
15.12 - The sun has made a reappearance, Barack and Michelle Obama both greet Barack’s cousin Henry Healy with a warm hug. The couple then go on a meet-and-greet with locals. Someone is smiling down on Moneygall.
14.58 – Michelle Obama pulls her raincoat a little tighter around her as the pair tread carefully across Moneygall GAA field. A ‘drop’ of rain is now pelting locals lining the streets. The presidential couple will get into another car and drive up the main street.
14.47 – Marine One is about one minute to land. It’s hovering over the Moneygall GAA pitch. Time to try out that hurley?
14.35 – The sun is out in Moneygall. The presidential helicopter is going to land on the Co Tipperary side of the village – according to a Tipperary man…
14.30 – The excitement is building in Moneygall as locals watch television footage of a US helicopter take Barack and Michelle Obama from the Phoenix Park. They had a bit of a glitch getting there when their car got stuck on a ramp at the US Embassy. Oops:
13.50 – It has just started raining again in Moneygall. The village silently prays.
12.06 – The presidential motorcade takes off to the US embassy for a private lunch.
12.05 – The President is presented with a hurley as he leaves the Áras. He wields it with with some skill as he turns to the assembled American media and jokes “if Congress don’t behave”..
11.55 – Obama said he and his wife were “extraordinarily grateful” for the welcome they’d received in Ireland, and said the “friendship and bond of the two countries could not be stronger”, adding it was not “just a matter of strategic interests, but of a shared bloodline and a respect for “the extraordinary traditions of an extraordinary people”.
He spoke of how “inspired we have been by the progress that has been made in Northern Ireland because it speaks to the possibility of peace and people in longstanding struggles being able to reimagine their relationships.”
He also alluded to the “mutual warmth and healing that took place” as a consequence of the Queen’s visit; “to know that the former Taoiseach FitzGerald was able to witness the Queen coming here, that sends what Bobby Kennedy would have called ‘a ripple of hope’ around the world.” He finished by saying he was grateful to all of those who had worked tirelessly to bring peace to Northern Ireland.
11.50 – Obama and Kenny make brief speeches before the assembled press from the fireside at Farmleigh. The Taoiseach speaks of the “palpable excitment” of the Irish people, and says the two leaders had discussed a “range of issues”, including the economic crisis, and the seriousness of our intent in dealing with it; the Northern Ireland Assembly; the Queen’s visit, and the implications and consequences of it; the US President’s recent speech on immigration at El Paso; the close relationship between Ireland the USA; the fact that there would be “no change” on Shannon. Kenny finished by telling his US counterpart they had unfinished business – “next time, you’d better bring your golf clubs.”
11.10 – They stand for a picture, before entering Farmleigh.
11.09 – Obama greets Taoiseach Enda Kenny like an old friend. Fionnuala Kenny and Michelle Obama hug and kiss, while Kenny immediately corners Obama for a chat. The country quietly prays he’s not asking for a loan. They stand on the steps for a few moments, shaking hands for a second time, and laughing.
11.08 – The presidential motorcade pulls up.
11.06 – The sun’s back out as the Taoiseach and Fionnuala Kenny wait on the steps of Farmleigh for the US President and Michelle Obama.
11.01 – The sun’s definitely come out. Oh, it’s gone in again.
11.00 – Obama exchanges a word and a joke with the US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, before climbing into the presidential motorcade for the short journey to Farmleigh.
10.59 – They emerge from the Áras. President and Dr McAleese bid a warm farewell to this visitors. Hopefully, she’s now retiring inside for a long bath after a busy week.
10.43 – The sun has come out. The country breathes a sigh of relief. The two Presidents and their partners return inside the Áras. The visit’s clipping along at a mighty pace.
10.40 – The three schoolchildren who rang the peace bell for only the third time in its history (the second time was by the Queen last week) come forward to meet the US President. “How are you sweetie, it’s nice to see you?” Michelle says, greeting the children. They stand for a photograph. “Let’s say cheese – that’s what we do in the United States of America,” Barack Obama invites the beaming children.
10.38 – Robert Norris, head gardener at the Áras shakes the hand of the President at the site of the tree-planting. The lucky tree is an upright Irish oak. Kind of Barack Obama to do a spot of digging.
10.37 – The two Presidents emerge from their meeting into the gusty gardens at the Áras. Dr McAleese seems to be in animated discussion with Michelle Obama, who’s still struggling with her hair and that damn wind.
10.35 – Assorted US and Irish dignitaries begin to assemble on the lawns outside the Áras.
10.34 – The private meeting with Mary McAleese is going on for much longer than the planned two minutes.
10.30 – Right about now, Taoiseach Enda Kenny is arriving at Farmleigh, ahead of his meeting with Barack Obama later in the morning. Mysteriously, his aide-de-camp is carrying a hurley.
10.09 – The President of Ireland and the United States retire for a short private meeting.
10.09 - The Obamas sign the visitors’ book. He declines to answer his first question from a journalist.
10.07 – The Obamas are greeted by President Mary McAleese. Obama says: “We are thrilled to be here”. President McAleese apologises for not “organising better weather”. He issues his first declaration on the Irish situation: “Actually this is not too bad. This is Chicago weather.” He tells the awaiting press: “The sun’s come out now.” The country takes a deep intake of breath at his enduring positivity.
10.02 – The convoy takes off.
10.01 – The couple step into car… Obama gets out of car. After a moment of confusion, he gets back in.
10.00 – The Obamas step off helicopter. Michelle struggles with her hair as the wind gusts across the Phoenix Park.
09.59 – Helicopter touches down in the grounds of Phoenix Park.
9.56 – The rain stops.
9.48 - The helicopter departs for the Áras an Uachtaráin.
9.42 – The Obamas climb into the Marine 1 Nighthawk helicopter.
9.36 – President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama step off plane.
9.28 - Airforce One touches down at Dublin Airport.
Additional reporting by Jennifer Wade and Susan Daly