Saturday, March 17, 2012

President Obama Celebrates St. Patrick's Day At DC Pub The Dubliner, Joined By An Irish Cousin

Henry Healy and Irish publican Ollie Hayes reunite with President to party with hundreds of DC's revelers...
President O'bama celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a very early pint on Saturday, when he quaffed Guinness at DC's The Dubliner, a storied Irish pub located steps away from Capitol Hill. Mr. Obama was joined for his 1:00 PM beerfest by Henry Healy, an eighth cousin from his ancestral village of Moneygall in Ireland, and Ollie Hayes, owner of the pub where the President met the Irish members of his family for the first time last May during his visit to the tiny hamlet in County Offaly. The President's Irish roots, discovered during the 2008 campaign, are on his maternal side, and date back to 1761. (Above: Healy is center, and Hayes is at right)

The trio toasted their DC reunion today, along with a large and rowdy crowd of hundreds, many of whom had been enjoying themselves since 10:00 AM, wearing festive beads, green wigs, shamrock head bobblers and face paint.

Danny Coleman, owner of The Dubliner, said the bar received a scant five-minute warning that the President would be arriving. As for the President's pint of Guinness?

"He finished it!" Coleman said.

"Ok how surreal was that just went for a guinness with president Obama in the Dubliner in DC," (stet) Healy, 27, tweeted. He's known in Moneygall as "King Henry VIII " thanks to his Presidential relation.

The President's press pool noted the presence of a Guinness foam mustache as he drank. The Obama campaign loves the President's Emerald Isle heritage: Some 30% of Americans claim Irish ancestry. The Campaign store briefly sold an O'bama Pint Glass Set ($25 for two), complete with a 2012 Shamrock logo, but it vanished from the swag store in February. T-shirts with the logo were still being offered on Saturday ("last chance").

Hayes gave the President and First Lady Obama lessons in Guinness pint-pulling last year when they visited his eponymous pub. The two Irishmen have been in DC since Thursday, according to Healy. They partied with the President for close to half an hour at The Dubliner.

The President, clad casually in slacks, a button down shirt and a pale moss-green jacket that read "National Parks, America's Best Idea," arrived at The Dubliner shortly before 1:00 PM by motorcade for a celebration that wasn't listed on his daily schedule. The day was beautiful and sunny, and as he stepped out of his ride, the President was greeted by revelers outside The Dubliner and nearby Irish Times, partying beneath sidewalk tents. (Above: WH photog Pete Souza took this arty shot of the President and Healy in a mirror above the bar)

One woman loudly urged the President to "sign my face," according to pool, but he declined and instead shook hands and posed for photos before walking into The Dubliner, a DC institution beloved by Irish ex-pats for the last 37 years. The crowd inside chanted "Four more years!" at least twice twice, and chanted "U.S.A! U.S.A.!"at one point.

The President posed for pictures, including one with Danny Cooper Coleman, age 21 months, the grandchild of owner Coleman. The President's VIP pass featured a photo of the baby, who also stars on the website. The lucky bartender who pulled the president's pint is Brian Keane.

The President's Irish roots...
The President's Irish roots were uncovered when he was a Senator running for President, and he first met his distant relations during his visit to Moneygall last May, ahead of his State Visit to the UK. In Moneygall, he met Healy and many other distant relations; the President is related to three families in the village, the Healys, the Donovans, and the Kearneys. (Above: Toasting with Healy)

The President's roots date back to 1761, when there was a marriage between Sarah Healy and Joseph Kearney, the great-great-grandfather of Falmouth Kearney, the President’s great-great-great grandfather on his mother’s side, who immigrated from Moneygall to Ohio in 1850 in the midst of Ireland's Great Famine.

The President will "officially" celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday at the White House, when he welcomes Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny for a day of events, including a big reception in the evening. Not one to play favorites with his Emerald Isle allies, the President will also welcome First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland. (Above: The President with owner Coleman, center, as he leaves)

Today, the fountain on the South Lawn of the White House is dyed green.

More on The Dubliner visit from the pool report:

The pool was ushered out into the sidewalk space while the president continued to sip his beer, grin, shake hands, and chat with bar patrons under a TV that was showing basketball highlights. White House trip director Marvin Nicholson came out briefly to chat with the pool. Marvin was rocking a bright green fleece. Your pooler chatted with Adam Joseph, a self-described Chicago native now living in DC, who described his brief exchange with the president. "I told him 'Mister President, it's my birthday!' And he said 'Happy birthday.'" Joseph, who said he was now 29, smiled when your pooler asked whether he had cadged a photo with the president. "Kinda. Well, I got a picture *of* him."

At about 1:14, still photographers were allowed inside. At 1:30, the president emerged from The Dubliner, shook a few more hands, gave a thumbs up to one man who shouted "Go Bulls!" and told Joseph "you're getting old." The president smiled and waved to the patrons in the packed Irish Times sidewalk area, then to another hundred or so gawkers on the sidewalk at North Capitol and F Street, boarded his ride, and by 1:45 we were back at the White House.

Above: The South Lawn fountain at the White House today.

Information: The Dubliner is located at 520 N Capitol St NW Washington, DC 20001. Phone: (202) 737-3773.

*Photos by Pete Souza/White House; except for 4th, by Reuters/pool. CNN video. White House photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama. Today's pool was Olivier Knox of Yahoo.