Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The O’Bamas of Moneygall and other US election blarney

It’s the story which never fails to pop up every four years: the attempt by some hamlet in Ireland to piggyback on the US presidential election. The yarn about Barack Obama’s connections with Moneygall in Co Offaly first surfaced last …

Mon, Jan 7, 2008, 08:37

   

It’s the story which never fails to pop up every four years: the attempt by some hamlet in Ireland to piggyback on the US presidential election. The yarn about Barack Obama’s connections with Moneygall in Co Offaly first surfaced last May. However, it is the story which will keep on giving, especially if the senator from Illinois continues to kick Hillary Clinton’s butt in the coming weeks to win the grand prize of a rough, tough, dirty battle with the GOP’s war dogs.

It means, though, we’re in for more cringeworthy TV like the RTE TV news story on Saturday evening about the celebrations in the Co Offaly town following Obama’s win in Iowa last week (thanks to Shane for pointing me towards the YouTube footage which is below). On this occasion, it was poor Ray Colgan who was sent to round up the happy drinkers and get them to gurn and wave flags for the cameras. He looked commendably unimpressed with his task, but he had better get used to it. Chances are he will be back in Moneygall again and again before next November.

But those good people in Moneygall are not the only Irish folks keeping a self-interested eye on the US elections. Have a read of last week’s opinion piece from publisher and editor Niall O’Dowd.

Besides his work on the Irish Voice newspaper and the Irish America magazine, O’Dowd’s a long-standing Clinton fan (he’s on the finance committee for her election campaign) so his piece was about why she should get the love and the votes from the Irish-American constituency.

There were many reasons put forward. O’Dowd counted the number of Irish onboard Clinton’s groovy bus. He pointed to how Clinton took time out from her canvassing schedule to engage in some jaw-jaw with the Chuckle Brothers when they visited Washington DC. He even recalled Clinton and hubbie Bill’s emotional reactions after their first to Northern Ireland in 1995.

As far as O’Dowd was concerned, this is a no-brainer.

If she becomes president, Ireland can expect the most committed American leader in history on their issues. If she wins, Ireland and Irish America will be big winners too.

But surely Irish-American voters have more pressing issues to think about than how their vote will play back in the old country? Isn’t the US presidental election supposed to be about, lets see, health care, foreign policy and taxes, to name three issues which spring to mind, rather than a green takeover of the White House?

It seems that many Irish Americans have already went “harumph” to such notions. O’Dowd points out that over 16 per cent of Iowa’s citizens claim Irish roots. They must all be from Moneygall, in that case.

I can’t wait to see what other candidates will declare their Irish roots in the coming week – or, more likely, see their Irish roots coming back to haunt them. And it can only be a matter of time before someone here tries to join the dots between a dude standing for election in Kenya or Pakistan and some Irish village in need of a visit from a RTE camera crew.

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