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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Irish musicians, actors and sports stars join festivities at Obama concert

Jedward takes to the stage at College Green to sing their Eurovision hit after Daniel Day-Lewis extended a warm welcome to the US president, incorporating the words of former president Abraham Lincoln.

AHEAD OF PRESIDENT Barack Obama’s public address in Dublin city centre this evening, some of Ireland’s top sports stars, actors and musicians have been entertaining the thousands of people who queued for hours for the chance to hear the president in person.

Host Ryan Tubridy opened the show and introduced Sharon Shannon and the Saw Doctors onto the stage to warm up the crowd.

Actor Brendan Gleeson spoke to the crowd of the 1845 visit by Frederick Douglas, who he described as having dedicated himself with extraordinary success to the abolition of all slavery”. Gleeson’s presentation was followed by Ryan Sheridan singing Jigsaw.

Stephen Rea dedicated a WB Yeats’ poem I am of Ireland to all of those Irish people who had to emigrate over the years. We hope it will not be too long before these people, or their children, return to dance with us in Ireland, Rea said.

Local girl Imelda May took to the stage after Rea’s reading to sing Johnny Got a Boom Boom, before Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh spoke and the Heinken Cup made an appearance.

The former sports commentator introduced Irish sporting heroes Robbie Keane, Colm Cooper, Katie Taylor, ‘King’ Henry Shefflin, Padraig Harrington and Brian O’Driscoll, fresh from Leinster’s Heineken Cup victory.

“What a line-up!” Ó Muircheartaigh exclaimed, adding that these were only six of the many Irish sporting heroes who always believed in their own ability and were prepared to put themselves on the line, when needed. He said the message they were bringing this evening was that we can all do everything together.

Kildare soprano Celine Byrne sang Danny Boy and actor Daniel Day Lewis extended a warm welcome to President Obama:

Mr President, whersoever your foot treads upon this great Earth of us, I wish you a welcome as brimful of affection and welcomness as that which we offer you today. “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this to the extent of the difference is no democracy”; Abraham Lincoln.

The Coronas then took the stage and were followed by Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan. Ronan said that given she has a US passport, she could “technically” end up in the White House herself one day, before introducing Jedward, who quickly launched into their 2011 Eurovision entry for Ireland.

Next up was Westlife, who rounded off the evening’s entertainment ahead of the president’s address. The band said they were “very proud to be Irish” and said they were delighted to have played for Queen Elizabeth last week and now for the US president.

Follow the timeline of Obama’s visit to Ireland >

LIVE: (Not) Cardinal Brady’s liveblog from Obama’s concert>