INTENSE diplomatic efforts are continuing in an attempt to get US President Barack Obama to visit Kilkenny City in May.
Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan will meet with US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, in Dublin when the diplomat returns from America next week - and May 24 is a likely date.
“I will be impressing upon Mr Rooney the strong and abiding links between our city and Mr Obama and why he should include our great city on his itinerary,” he said.
All the material, compiled by the Kilkenny People outlining the genealogical records of Mr Obama’s extremely close association with the city and its residents have now been sent by courier to the US Embassy in Dublin; the White House and US State Department in Washington DC.
The ‘People can reveal for the first time that Mr Obama will visit Ireland on May 23 and between then and May 28 he will also travel to Britain, France and Poland. The only real opportunity Mr Obama will have to visit the birthplace of so many of his ancestors will be on Tuesday, May 24.
He will find it hard to say no to his 75-year-old distant cousin, Jane de Montmorency-Wright who lives near Bennettsbridge. “I earnestly hope that he comes to see us and I have no difficulty coming to the city to meet him,” she said from her home.
“I have followed his career from the start and am a great admirer. And I think that as the most important and influential man on the planet it can only be good for us if he comes and meets his cousins,” she said. She has the mementoes of her great grandmother and written material linking her family to Bishop John Kearney, the sixth generation grand uncle of Mr Obama.
“We will look after him if he comes and I have to admit I would be terribly miffed if he stood me up,” she said.
Mayor of the city, Cllr Martin Brett has been in constant contact with the secretariat at the US Embassy in Dublin and said it would seem likely that if he did visit the city it would be to St Canice’s Cathedral and possibly Kilkenny Castle.
In January he sent an official invitation to Mr Obama to visit the city before details of his trip were revealed. He has also met Mr Rooney in Kilkenny and feels that the links between Mt Rooney and the city will be important if the city is to be successful in attracting Mr Obama.
“However, we feel that the presence of his distant cousin, Jane de Montmorency Wright in Kilkenny, that could be our trump card. He would find it hard to refuse a woman held in such high regard locally,” Mayor Brett said.
It has emerged that a team of offcials from the White House will come to Ireland next week to formalise plans for the visit and the all-important itinerary, which may include Kilkenny city.