Irish Times: IF HOME is where the heart is, then Barack Obama became a true son of Ireland yesterday. And we all walk a little taller today.
But none more so than the villagers of Moneygall, who welcomed the president of the United States to their tiny village in Co Offaly and fell head over heels for his irresistible charm.
It is a day they, and we, will never forget….…From the moment Obama stepped from his armoured Cadillac SUV, he had the air of a man who meant business. One side of the long street was lined with people, many with babies and young children, who had stood and waited for more than five hours in atrocious weather to see the president.
“They’re like emperor penguins huddling against the Antarctic winter,” remarked a man from Foreign Affairs.
….The cheers that greeted him shook the very summit of the Slieve Blooms. And then the sun came out … The hug for young Henry was wide and warm and it set the tone for what was to come. After the pleasantries, Obama loped across to the swooning, screaming, singing crowd.
He plunged in – grabbing hands, grabbing babies, kissing babies; grabbing grannies, kissing grannies, getting kissed by grannies; hugging blushing farmers, embracing swooning teenagers and high-fiving simpering young fellas.
He posed for photographs, flashing that famous smile. Crowd-surfing toddlers were bumped over adult heads and into his hands … He talked and he listened and he laughed. The delirious crowd broke into song….
…Gorgeous Michelle, smiling in a shimmeringly elegant silk coat which was absolutely soaked with rain ….A little girl held up a sign: “Did you bring Bo?”….
…Stuffy? Reserved? Awkward? Not this fella. He could have given lessons yesterday to Bill Clinton.
Back outside, the crowd waited for Barack’s return. Ten minutes later, still wearing their damp clothes, the presidential couple emerged and they worked their way right to the end of the line. This was pure gold from Mr and Mrs President.
Finally, they took their leave, but they took their time. Obama, waving goodbye again and again and, just before his motorcade took off, he stood on the running board of the SUV, turned to the people and waved again.
What he left behind was like the aftermath of a benign whirlwind.
…“He held my hand, then he touched my hat, then he pulled me forward and kissed my cheek,” said Anne Maher, like she was describing the final chapter of a Mills and Boon novel.
…Everyone had a story … A perfect day…..
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