O'Malley, O'Connor...Obama?

Richard Roth is a CBS News correspondent based in London.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
It takes a full twelve seconds to drive through "downtown" Moneygall - which consists of two pubs, two small grocery stores and not much else. But a New York minute is all it takes to learn what the residents of this Irish village on the Tipperary-Offaly border think would be the benefit of confirming Moneygall is the ancestral home of an American presidential candidate. They're convinced it would put Moneygall on the map.

When Ancestry.com a few months ago traced Barak Obama's maternal ancestors to a 19-year-old man named Falmouth Kearney, who sailed to New York from Liverpool, England in 1850, the assumption was that Kearney's roots in Ireland would eventually be found. The proof isn't rock-solid, but there are now enough genealogical hints to convince many in Moneygall that Obama's roots lie in their soil.

They're not yet planning guided walking tours and a Barack Obama Visitor's Center, but there is some excitement stirred by the possibility that another American who might possibly become president, might have ties to Ireland. Stephen Neill, local Rector of the Church of Ireland, stood the other day on a field where Obama's putative great-great-great-great-grandfather once had a cobbler's shop, and said, "it may well be that this may become a major tourist attraction, depending on the results of the presidential election next year" in America. Moreover, the field right now is conveniently vacant.

Well, maybe. From Moneygall, it's not a long, long way to Tipperary. But it's still a more than a year to the U.S. presidential election. And in politics, as a British prime minister once put it, "a week is a long time."