O'bama fever strikes tiny Irish village

MONEYGALL, IRELAND - CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports it's easy to spot the village of Moneygall in the rolling hills of central Ireland. It's the one where the flags are flying, and where every surface in the place has been given a fresh coat of paint.

It's the on where they've written a new song as a tribute to their new favorite American president, Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama's visit to this village of 300 people next week may be the most anticipated in this corner of Ireland apart from the Second Coming.

Posters around town detail his connection to the place - how is great, great, great grandfather on his mother's side left for America in 1850.

Obama's Irish roots

But when church records were first revealed the link four years ago, an Irish Barack Obama was incomprehensible here.

"I've been calling him 'Abracadabra' because I didn't know how to pronounce his name," resident Carey Wilde said in 2007.

In an interview this week, Wilde said she's learned his name since. "I did indeed, and grown to love him."

Everybody's grown to love him in Moneygall - especially Henry Healy. "He's going to find everyone crawling out of his family tree to meet him when he arrives."

The celebration of Irish roots is a time-honored tradition in American politics. Sooner or later, all American presidents seem to end up in Ireland. Maybe it's those 40 million or so Irish-American votes. But maybe it's because the Obama connection was so unexpected, that he has been so warmly embraced.

At Ollie Hayes' pub, they're expecting him. "If he's coming to Moneygall, he's coming in here," Hayes says.

It's not the party they're worried about. It's the morning after.

Sinead Culliton says it's "so huge, there might be the anti-climax after." Laughing, she said she's worried about a "post-Obama stress disorder."

There's a cure for that here in Moneygall.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips returned to the CBS News London bureau as a correspondent in 1993. He has covered many major stories since then, including the war in the Balkans, the death of Princess Diana and the weapons inspection conflicts in Iraq.

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