Late-night vigil pays off for Moneygall cousin

Thu, Nov 8, 2012, 00:00

Coffee morning:There was only one person more popular than Barack Obama’s Irish cousin Henry Healy at a post-election breakfast held in Dublin, and that was the person pouring the coffee.

Many of the almost 200 people who showed up for the event organised by the US embassy yesterday were suffering from sleep deprivation, having either stayed up all night or having set their alarms extra-early to hear who would lead the US for the next four years.

Among them, looking tired but elated, was Henry Healy of Moneygall, Co Offaly, who shares a common ancestor with the US president, and who said he was delighted with the outcome, both for his distant relative and for Ireland. “I’m confident, because of the continuation in the economic policies of the president, that it will boost Ireland’s chances of coming out of this recession much faster,” he said, before being swept away by yet another journalist. Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore was also on hand to voice congratulations to the man he met in Dublin airport on a “very cold, windy and wet morning” last May.

Asked later if the Government would issue another invitation to the re-elected president to visit, perhaps during The Gathering, he replied: “I don’t know what plans the Healy family have for a ‘gathering’ in Moneygall but I’m sure if they’re organising something perhaps all their cousins will come, including President Obama.”

Larry Donnelly, a law lecturer in NUI Galway and legal counsel to Democrats Abroad Ireland, who spent the previous night on election watch, said he was delighted with the result but surprised at the margin of the vote that went to Obama.

“Turnout made a huge difference in the election. Young people and African Americans turned out in huge numbers and obviously that made a difference in a lot of states,” he said. However, he said: “Republicans and Democrats are going to have to put their heads together.”