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Irish Ambassador Michael Collins proudly noted that his small country is the ancestral home of two American presidents, one Democrat and one Republican.
Mr. Obama on Monday plans to visit Moneygall, a town of 300 people about 80 miles southwest of Dublin. On St. Patrick’s Day this year, Mr. Obama said the town is the home of his “great-great-great-great-great-grandfather,” Falmouth Kearney.
About 45 miles south of Moneygall is the equally small town of Ballyporeen, the ancestral home of former President Ronald Reagan.
“Here you have these two little towns from which two American presidents have sprung,” Mr. Collins said.
The ambassador was being modest. Many American presidents of both parties have claimed Irish heritage, including John F. Kennedy. Former President George W. Bush is among those whose roots are in Northern Ireland.
“We are proud that a small part of the president happens to be Irish,” Mr. Collins said.
The ambassador said he hopes the Irish visit will help spur Ireland’s economic recovery. After 15 boom years with annual growth rates as high as 8 percent, the “Celtic Tiger” crashed in 2008.
The center-right political party, Fine Gael, won elections in March, and Prime Minister Edna Kenny introduced austerity measures that are stabilizing the economy. Mr. Collins said the government expects slight growth of about 1 percent this year and stronger growth in 2012.
He noted the strong economic ties between Ireland and the United States. American firms have invested $235 billion and created 100,000 jobs in Ireland, he said, while Irish companies have invested $35 billion and created 80,000 jobs in the United States.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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