MONEYGALL’S preparations for the upcoming visit of its favourite son, US President Barack Obama, were interrupted this Monday when a busload of American Sercret Service agents descended on the village.
Locals and council staff were busy working away on Monday morning but their efforts came to a sudden halt after lunch when a blacked-out bus arrived under Garda ecsort.
“They came, they went. It was totally unexpected,” said Obama’s distant cousin Henry Healy.
“They visited both pubs in the village and I believe they then went to London.” President Obama will travel on to the British capital for a meeting immediately after his visit to Ireland at the end of May.
Mr Healy said that the agents, who numbered more than 30, didn’t spend too much time in the village, but they did look at three or four possible landing sites for the presidential helicopter.
“This was just an advance team. As it nearer the time for the visit, the teams will get bigger,” said Mr Healy.
He confirmed that they had visited the GAA grounds as a possible landing area.
“The GAA grounds would be the preferred option for us because it is in the village and provides easy access into the village. It would be the logical choice, but there are other factors,” he said.
Mr Healy pointed out that space would be needed for the President’s six-tonne car, known as the “Beast”, to be able to drive right up to the helicopter. There will also be a need for space for fuel tankers to refuel the helicopter.
Mr Healy said that there was speculation the the date of th e visit will be officially announced by the end of this week, but as to who will get an invite to meet the most powerful man in the world, he “hadn’t a clue”.