IT was a regular Monday in Moneygall, well as regular as a Monday can be for a town preparing for the arrival of United States President, when it suddenly became extraordinary.
While residents were busy getting the village ready for President Barack Obama’s impending visit next month, a bus containing 30 US officials and security staff pulled in.
The group who conversed little with the locals visited both public houses in the village, took aerial photographs and identified a location for the President’s helicopter. And then they were gone.
Henry Healy, President Obama’s distant cousin told the ‘Offaly Express’ the whole thing took a very short time. “They kept to themselves. The coach pulled up, the ‘men in black’ hopped off and it was all done in about 40 minutes,” said Mr Healy.
Meanwhile Offaly County Council met with members of the community on Monday afternoon.
“It was really to break the ice between the council and ourselves. We spoke at length about preparations from something as small as flagpoles to major issues like crowd control,” said Mr Healy.
He said however for the moment plans were pretty much at a standstill until they learn the President’s itinerary. He said that Dulux are meeting with locals on Thursday to give everyone their colour schemes.
Director of Services Frank Heslin said that the council’s role was to assist with the enhancement of the village generally. He said while the council had no official role in preparations for the President’s visit, the council could ensure that works were co-ordinated. Mr Heslin said that as the village was recently bypassed, the reduction in traffic would give the village a chance to breath. He said it was a “double opportunity to give the village a facelift”.
While a date of Monday May 23 is still thought to be the day President Obama will visit his home county, this has yet to be set in stone by the American Embassy.