November 2008: Uncle Barry O’Bama

Many people have hailed the election of Barack Obama as the latest in a long line of Irish Presidents of the United States. After a little research, I can officially announce today that Barack Obama (or O’Bama as it should really be spelled) is indeed a true United States Irishman. (It always makes me nervous when I put the words ‘united’ and ‘Irish’ in the same sentence) The translation of his surname O’Bana is, literally, ‘son of the soil’.

You see, ‘Bama’ is the official state soil of Alabama and ‘O’, of course, translates into ‘son of’ from Irish. Look it up on ‘Tinternet’ if you don’t believe me. And don’t go telling me that he can’t be a true Irishman because of the colour of his skin: that would be like convincing me that Paul McGrath should have played for England or Philip Lynott never drank whiskey out of a jar. Unthinkable.

Barack- I can address him by his first name now as one true Irishman to another- is welcome in my house anytime. Of course, my invitation will have to take its place in the queue. A little Irish town has already claimed to have housed his ancestors. Presumably, these ancestors were members of the constabulary of the time and lived in the local barracks; the new president being named in honour of this fact when he was born. This is more proof, if any was needed, of Barack’s Irishness.
Anyway, this little ancestral town is called Moneygall. Mind you, with the state of the economy this last year or so, I’m sure the people are fairly fed up at the loss of jobs there and would like to change its appalling name to something more appealing; something like Galled-at-the-lack-of-Money, maybe.

Speaking about name-changing, will Uncle Barry (the more I write about his Irishness, the more I feel I can be personal with him) change the name of the White House now to something more appropriate given his ethnics? Perhaps he’ll go so far as to paint it a different colour?


Indeed, our embracing of Uncle O’Bama is in stark contrast to the ‘welcome’ (and I’m sure you’ll forgive my choice of verb here) rendered onto George Bush while he was in office. This is not surprising really considering that he probably thinks that Shannon is the capital of Ireland and consists mainly of a long strip of concrete with landing lights and a huge coffee shop, complete with smoking area for his gasping troops.

Some of you might recall that time when George actually found his way to our dear little island in 2004.  The welcome he got was not exactly comparable to that received by other presidents such as Reagan in Ballyporeen (another town that could have done with a name change, incidentally) and Kennedy in Wexford.
No, back in 2004, Bush visited Ireland for all the wrong reasons. He was garnishing support for the war in Iraq, trying to steal a bit of Clinton’s thunder by associating himself with the Northern Ireland peace process and, of course, he was wooing the Irish American vote for the upcoming second-term elections. Not exactly a sentimental fellow was George, and certainly we Irish never felt sentimental towards him. But now, finally, after eight long years, we have Uncle Barry to bring back to the oul’ sod.

O’Bama has already indicated that he is interested in visiting his ancestral homeland. The Washington Post wrote that Moneygall consists of ‘one stoplight, two pubs and a population of 298.’ Now that really amazes me. Only two pubs? And, according to the National Post newspaper, 100 of these villagers, a third of the entire population, packed into one of those bars on the night O’Bama was elected.

God knows what the place will belike when he finally gets to visit for the pint that he says he will have there. Showing another sign that he is truly Irish, he made this rash promise on 17th March 2008: as rash a promise as any Irishman has ever made on St. Patrick’s Days down through the ages.

No doubt, it will be a pint of the black stuff that our new Uncle will drink. . At least he won’t have to contend with Bertie trying to shove pints of Bass down his throat.

And in the same vein, I’ve just thought of an apt new name for one of the two pubs in Galled-at-the-lack-of Money. They could call it the Black Bush.

So we look forward to Uncle Barry O’Bama coming home to Ireland in the near future. Never mind that he has a different colour of skin to most of us. Sure, we’re all colour blind over here; the Irish for a ‘black man’ is ‘fear gorm’ after all, as I’m sure he’s been told already. And anyway, it could have been worse as far as we’re concerned and we should count our blessings. Heaven forbid if the new president was a woman.


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