- Posted October 17, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Election 2012: Your stories
- YOUR FAMILIES FUTURE MAY LIE IN SENATOR TOOMEY'S HANDS
- FIVE OF SIX KEY SEQUESTER DECISION MAKERS WHO THREATEN TO DRASTICALLY IMPACT OUR FUTURE.
- HOW THE SUPERRICH ARE SCREWING THE REST OF US BY TURNING DECADES OF OUR LOSSES INTO THEIR GAINS.
- REP. PHIL GINGREY, M.D., R-GA. JUSTIFIES U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE, REP. TODD AKIN, R-MO. POSITION ON LEGITIMATE RAPE.
- BOEHNER & McCONNELL WILLING TO RISK COLLAPSE OF US & WORLD MARKETS & ECONOMIES.
"O'BAMA" OUT POLLS RYAN 96% TO 4% IN IRELAND.
Apparently Paul Ryan does not have the luck of the Irish when it comes to currying favor in his ancestral homeland. According to a report by Reuters, the Republican vice presidential candidate has little public support in the Kilkenny County town of Graiguenamanagh, the old stomping grounds of his great-great grandparents.
EVEN WITH HIS IRISH NAME AND ROMAN CATHOLIC FAITH, RYAN REPORTEDLY HAS BEEN UNABLE TO CONVINCE THE EMERALD ISLE’S OBAMA SUPPORTERS TO JUMP SHIP. “HE DOESN’T HAVE THE CHARISMA, HE HASN’T CONNECTED WITH THE PEOPLE,” PAT NOLAN, A 62-YEAR-OLD GRAIGUENAMANAGH NATIVE, TOLD REUTERS ABOUT RYAN. “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT HIS NAME IS, IT’S OBAMA THAT HAS MADE THE EFFORT.”
Indeed, Obama’s visit to Ireland last year made headlines—particularly, as CBS News notes, when he stopped for a pint in Moneygall, the birthplace of his maternal great-great-great-grandfather. A U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE ARTICLE ON “PRESIDENT OBAMA’S IRISH CONNECTIONS” MENTIONS THAT THE PRESIDENT IS LIKELY JUST 3.1 PERCENT IRISH, BUT HE HAS BEEN LARGELY EMBRACED BY A POPULATION THAT JOKINGLY ADDS AN HONORARY APOSTROPHE TO HIS NAME TO MAKE IT “O’BAMA.”
A GALLUP INTERNATIONAL POLL FROM SEPTEMBER FOUND THAT 96 PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS IN IRELAND SAID THAT, IF ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE, THEY WOULD VOTE FOR OBAMA AND VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IN THE 2012 ELECTION. (LIKE ROMNEY’S RUNNING MATE, BIDEN TOO IS ROMAN CATHOLIC, AND HE TRACES HIS ROOTS TO COUNTY LOUTH.)
In the Ryan family’s ancestral homeland, locals aren’t eager to embrace the thought of a Republican win. In a poll of 20 Graiguenamanagh residents, Reuters could not find a single Ryan or Romney supporter. ONE 64-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, WHO IS OPPOSED TO RYAN’S PLANS TO SLASH WELFARE AND MEDICARE FOR THE ELDERLY, TOLD REUTERS THAT ALTHOUGH A VICTORY FOR RYAN MIGHT OFFER A SMALL MORALE BOOST TO GRAIGUENAMANAGH, SHE “WOULDN’T WANT TO INFLICT HIM ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.” “HE’S TOO FAR RIGHT-WING FOR THIS PART OF THE WORLD,” MARTIN BRETT, A FORMER MAYOR OF COUNTY KILKENNY’S CAPITAL, SAID TO REUTERS.
Although Ryan has played up his immigrant roots on the campaign stump, IRISH FAMINE HISTORIAN JOHN KELLY WROTE IN AUGUST THAT RYAN’S ECONOMIC PHILOSOPHY IS “THE VERY SAME ONE THAT HURT, NOT HELPED, HIS FOREBEARS DURING THE FAMINE—AND HURT THEM BADLY.” KELLY DREW AN UNFAVORABLE COMPARISON BETWEEN RYAN AND CHARLES TREVELYAN, THE BRITISH OFFICIAL WHO MANAGED FAMINE RELIEF AND DEVOTED HIMSELF TO ERADICATING DEPENDENCE ON THE GOVERNMENT.
THE IRISH AMERICAN VOTE IN SWING STATES CAN, IN FACT, BE INFLUENTIAL, THE IRISH VOICE PUBLISHER NIALL O’DOWD TOLD REUTERS.
“IT’S A VOTE THAT TENDS TO BE A BELLWETHER VOTE,” O’DOWD SAID TO REUTERS. “IF IT SWUNG DECISIVELY BEHIND OBAMA, IT WOULD CERTAINLY MEAN THAT HE WOULD WIN THE ELECTION.”
IF GRAIGUENAMANAGH IS ANY INDICATION, ROMNEY’S DECISION TO PUT RYAN ON HIS TICKET HAS NOT YET EARNED HIM THE KIND OF IRISH FONDNESS CURRENTLY RESERVED FOR OBAMA AND BIDEN.
O'BAMA COME HOME: AN IRISH VILLAGE WELCOMES ITS PRODIGAL SON
It takes less than a minute to drive through Obama's ancestral hometown, a sleepy and typical rural village whose main attractions are a single pub, a corner shop, a post office and an athletics field. But days before the President's arrival, the quiet that usually blankets the village is broken by the flapping of Stars and Stripes, the squeaking of fiddlers and the whirring of the advance security team's sleek cars. At Ollie Hayes' bar, the nerve center of the visit, local drinkers watch with fascination as international camera crews come and go and men in black suits discuss final details.(See what the Queen's first-ever visit to Ireland means.)
There is tension and excitement among the villagers, who are aware that the eyes of the world will soon be on their tight-knit community of 300. "When Obama announced on St. Patrick's Day that he was coming here, he didn't just say he was coming to Ireland or Europe but that he was coming to Moneygall," says Ollie Hayes with pride.
Years ago, local Anglican rector Stephen Neill was central in finding proof of Obama's ancestry in parish records. "A shiver went down my spine when I saw what was in front of me," he says. A U.S. researcher from genealogy website Ancestry.com had linked Obama's mother to County Offaly and e-mailed Neill asking him to search the records. The rector discovered that the Kearney family was made up of cobblers who helped the poor during the Irish potato famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852. In 1850, Falmouth Kearney — just 19 years old — made the difficult journey across the Atlantic to lay claim to land. Looking for a better life in the U.S., he left behind a country that was devastated by a famine that killed a million people and forced another million to emigrate. Kearney married and became a farmer in Indiana, raising seven children — including daughter Mary Anne, the great-grandmother of Obama's mother Stanley Dunham. Many U.S. Presidents have laid claim to Irish roots, including John F. Kennedy and Ronald Regan. But Obama's Irish connection makes him unique as the "first African-American-Irish President," Neill says.(See pictures of Barack Obama's family tree.)
Obama's distant cousin Henry Healy thinks the President owes his oration skills to his Irish ancestors. Healy, a local accountant who has taken on the role of family spokesman, still finds it "surreal" that he's related to the President of the United States. Healy will be one of the many distant relatives who will meet Obama during his short, low-key visit to the village (entry is restricted to locals and invited guests). Tens of thousands of others will hope to catch a glimpse of the President — who's greatly admired by many in Ireland — at a mass rally in Dublin that evening. Writing in the Irish Independent newspaper, PRIME MINISTER ENDA KENNY CAPTURED THE HIGH REGARD IN WHICH THE PRESIDENT IS HELD: OBAMA'S VISIT "HOME" WILL BE "A FULFILLMENT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM. A DREAM, WHICH, ON HIS ELECTION, REGAINED SO MUCH OF ITS ALLURE."
Healy describes the visit as an "escape hatch" from the perpetual bad-news story of Ireland's devastating financial crisis, which has left many in Moneygall jobless. The village, which used to be one of the main rest stops for travelers between the cities of Dublin and Limerick, was dealt another economic blow last December, when it was bypassed by a motorway. But local entrepreneurs hope the President's trip can reverse the downward trend. A souvenir shop selling Obama postcards, plaques and mugs has opened beside the site of the former home of his relatives. The post office has already seen a brisk trade in novelty gifts for curious Irish passersby. Young businessman Billy Hayes has opened a shop selling T-shirts with slogans such as "Obama's Irish Pub" and "What's the Craic, Barack?" — craic, which rhymes with Barack, being Irish slang for gossip. AND THEN THERE'S THE MULTIMILLION-EURO REST AREA BEING BUILT ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE VILLAGE — DEVELOPERS ARE HOPING TO CALL IT THE OBAMA PLAZA.(SEE MONEYGALL IN TIME'S LIST OF THE TOP 10 WAYS PEOPLE HAVE CASHED IN ON OBAMA.)
The recent cosmetic changes to the village in County Offaly have been dramatic, but Neill says the real change "is in the spirit of the people. " OBAMA'S VISIT HAS GIVEN THEM "SELF-BELIEF" AND THE SENSE THAT THEY HAVE SOMETHING WORTHWHILE TO OFFER, WHICH WILL "REAP REWARDS INTO THE FUTURE," HE SAYS. The President is expected to spend less than two hours in Moneygall as part of a one-day stopover in Ireland, but the brief return of a long-lost son will leave an imprint that could last for generations.
ALL VOTERS, INCLUDING VETERANS; FEMALES; IRISH; IMMIGRANTS; LATINOS; OTHER MINORITIES; YOUNG AND OLD, PLEASE MAKE YOUR VOTES COUNT BY VOTING FOR THE OBVIOUS CHOICE, BARACK “O’BAMA” AND JOE BIDEN.