In a Saint Patrick's Day announcement, President Barack Obama told the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny that he hoped to visit the birthplace of a great grandfather on his way to the U.K. in May.
Obama, meeting with Kenny in the Oval office, said his ancestor was born in Moneygall, a village in County Offaly, and added that he planned also to visit "famous sites" in the country.
According to the LA Times, the discovery that Obama's great grandfather (several generations removed) on his mother's side was a Moneygall cobbler catapulted the formerly sleepy backwater, population 298, into the international spotlight. Camera crews from distant countries flocked to the village during the U.S. presidential race.
Local businesses have since plastered Obama's face on their ads; tourists from Europe have stopped in; and a politician wants to erect an Obama heritage center.
On Thursday, a green tie-clad Kenny said his country would be honored to host Obama in May, CNN reported. The two bantered about a proposed game of golf before the pair joined a St. Patrick's Day lunch and evening reception in the East Room of the White House.
Kenny, winner of an election that saw the long-serving Fianna Fail government ousted amid discontent over a 14% unemployment rate, self-serving politicians and worsening economic conditions, accepted U.S. gratitude for Ireland's support in the Afghanistan conflict.
— Freya Petersen