Obama gets exuberant reception in Ireland

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama drink Guinness beer as they meet with local residents at Ollie Hayes pub in Moneygall, Ireland, the ancestral homeland of his great-great-great grandfather, Monday, May 23, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

President Obama was met by an exuberant crowd in Ireland on Monday, where he spoke to a screaming crowd of 25,000 people and re-connected with his distant Irish heritage.

"My name is Barack Obama of the Moneygall Obamas," the president quipped in College Green, Dublin Monday afternoon. "And I've come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way."

Mr. Obama, whose great-great-great grandfather immigrated to America from Moneygall, also visited his ancestral hometown on Monday - and met up with his "long-lost eighth cousin, Henry," who is, the president joked, now "affectionately known as Henry the VIII."

"It was remarkable to see the small town where a young shoemaker named Falmouth Kearney, my great-great-great grandfather, lived his early life," Mr. Obama said.

Crowds in Dublin roared as Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny introduced Mr. Obama, whom he described as the living embodiment of the American dream. The president's remarks were punctuated with phrases in Gaelic - including a Gaelic version of his famous 2008 campaign motto, "Yes we can."

In his remarks, the president emphasized America's close and longstanding relationship with Ireland.

"An American doesn't really require Irish blood to understand that ours is a proud, enduring centuries-old relationship' that we are bound by history and friendship and shared values, and that's why I've come here today as an American president, to reaffirm those bonds of affection," he said.

Earlier, the president and first lady greeted dozens of Moneygall residents before stopping into the local pub for a pint of Guinness - which, according to UK's Telegraph, was served to them by "a specially trained barman" described as "a proper Guinness ninja who can draw the 'perfect pint.'"

"Can people vouch for this guy?" Mr. Obama joked, pointing to the bartender. The crowd responded exuberantly in the affirmative.

He also managed to sneak in a playful jab aimed at Congress, noting that he could use his newly-acquired hurling stick - a gift from Kenny - to give misbehaving members "a little paddle" if necessary.

Mr. and Mrs. Obama were expected to stay in Dublin through the night, but will instead head to London Monday evening. The change of plans was due to disruptions resulting from a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano, which erupted over the weekend. The president is on the first leg of his six-day European tour.

"Due to a recent change in the trajectory in the plume of volcanic ash, air force one will depart Ireland for London tonight," said White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest. "The schedule for tomorrow will proceed as planned."

Watch a clip of Mr. Obama's speech in Dublin below.

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