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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 19 May 2021

Barack Obama Plaza: Business is booming - but US tourists don't quite know what to make of it

There’s a tiny corner of Co Offaly that will forever be known as Barack Obama country.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

NAMING A MOTORWAY service station after a US president might not seem like the most fitting tribute – but there’s no denying that signs for the Barack Obama Plaza draw in thousands of motorists who otherwise may not be inclined to stop there.

Obama’s eighth cousin Henry Healy, who gained national prominence around the time of the president’s visit to his ancestral home in Moneygall in 2011, is now operations manager of the Plaza – just a few hundreds yards from the village, and off the M7.

And while most US tourists are pleasantly surprised to learn of Obama’s unlikely connection to this otherwise unremarkable corner of Offaly – the reactions haven’t been uniformly positive.

“You have some Republicans from the United States come on tour buses – we’ve had, on occasion, people refuse to get off because of the name,” Henry told TheJournal.ie.

Reporting by Daragh Brophy. Video by Nicky Ryan.

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