All the President’s Kin

Last week the Queen of England popped over to Ireland and today it’s the turn of Barack Obama to visit these shores. The Queen’s visit spanned four days and brought her to a number of historically symbolic sites as well as some commercial ones. Her refusal to sample a pint of plain at the Guinness brewery was rescued somewhat by her successful attempt at an Irish greeting at the start of her speech at Dublin Castle. President Obama is a bit busier than the Queen, however, and he’ll only be on Irish soil for 24 hours. Most of his time will be spent in Dublin, though he’ll also be paying a short visit to the home of his ancestors in Moneygall, Co. Offaly. I’m sure he’ll also make an attempt at the cúpla focal, though I doubt if he’ll refuse a pint of porter if it’s placed in front of him

Of course, it was far from pints of Guinness that Barack Obama was raised. In the 1960s, he grew up in Hawaii and then Indonesia before returning to the 50th state in the 70s. When soul singer Johnnie Taylor sang I Could Never Be President in 1969, he put it down to his love for the lady on his life. Five years later, fellow soulman Percy Mayfield went as far as to say that he didn’t want to become president because of the undue attention the position might bring to his social life. Taylor and Mayfield were both using humour to highlight how unlikely it was back then for an African American to become president. In 2007, Over the Rhine from Cincinnati wondered what would happen if a song could be president on a wonderfully witty track from The Trumpet Child album. The same year, Rustic Overtones from Maine included a Letter to the President on their Light at the End album. The song is narrated from the point of view of a “soldier with the 82nd airborne stationed overseas” and his letter is a plea to end the war so that he can come home. Can Ireland make Barack Obama feel at home during his short stay? Yes we can

I Could Never Be President – Johnnie Taylor

I Don’t Want to Be the President – Percy Mayfield

If A Song Could Be President – Over the Rhine

Letter To The President – Rustic Overtones


2 thoughts on “All the President’s Kin

    • It looked like some craic in Moneygall. Did you watch the Queen’s visit to the market in Cork?

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