Northern Ireland

US President Barack Obama to visit Ireland in May

Barack Obama and Enda Kenny
Image caption Barack Obama and Enda Kenny both sported green ties in honour of St Patrick's Day

US President Barack Obama intends to visit Ireland in May.

He met Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the White House in Washington on Thursday, St Patrick's Day.

Speaking at the end of their meeting, the President said: "I wanted to say today that I intend to come to Ireland in May, but the date of the visit has yet to be finalised."

He said he intended to visit Moneygall, the home of his great, great, great, great, great, grandfather.

Records have revealed that Mr Obama's ancestor was a shoemaker in the village of Moneygall in County Offaly. His son Fulmuth Kearney left for America in 1850.

Researchers at Trinity College, Dublin, delved further into Mr Obama's past during the presidential campaign to find an ancestral grand uncle was a prominent Dublin businessman in the 1700s.

Wig-maker Michael Kearney brushed shoulders with Ireland's aristocracy on a daily basis and bought and sold property throughout the country. Mr Obama's political dynasty can also be traced to Kearney, who was heavily involved in the trade politics of Dublin.

There is no official date for the visit yet but Mr Obama is due to travel to the UK in late May ahead of a G8 summit of world leaders in France.

Mr Kenny called the President's visit a "vote of confidence" in the Irish people at a time of difficulty.

He said he could assure the president of a rapturous welcome and said if he wanted to play golf he would be happy to join him.

Earlier, the two leaders talked about how Ireland would bounce back from economic turmoil.

Mr Kenny had breakfast with vice president Joe Biden at about 1230 GMT and met the US President at the Oval Office two hours later.

At an American Ireland Fund dinner on Wednesday night, Mr Kenny said Ireland was "far from finished".

He said the recent election was "a new dawn" for the country.

The American Ireland Fund is aiming to raise $100m for Irish charities by the end of 2013.

Mr Kenny also met US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday. The two men discussed the global economic situation.