“I’m looking forward to going,” President Obama told the Echo in casual remarks at a recent holiday party at the White House.
U.S. embassy staff in Dublin said they were not aware of any specific date for a visit, but acknowledge the president has promised in the past to visit Ireland during his presidency.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen formally extended an invitation to President Obama last St. Patrick’s Day while he was visiting the White House.
“I hope, of course, some day to reciprocate your great hospitality by welcoming you and Mrs. Obama to Ireland, where we will offer you the warmest of Irish welcomes, I can assure you,” said Cowen at the time.
Genealogists have traced Obama’s roots back to County Offaly, specifically to the village of Moneygall. U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, visited Moneygall twice in the last few months and this had led to raise expectations of an Obama arrival.
The village, which had a population of less than 300, was the birthplace of Fulmouth Kearney, who experts say was Obama’s maternal great-great-great grandfather.
The president clearly revels in discussions on the subject of his Irish heritage. First Lady, Michelle Obama, didn’t say anything about the visit during the White House exchange, but did offer a nod of the head and prolonged wink as the President affirmed his intention to visit what is one of his ancestral homelands.