What’s in Moneygall?

In the lead up to US President Obama’s visit to his ancestral homeland of Moneygall, Co. Offaly on May 23, some people (namely, me) are asking, “What the devil is there in Moneygall?”

By Sarah777 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Moneygall: a one-street town

An apt question and one, it seems, without a good answer. The answer is, in fact, there’s not much in Moneygall. According to the Irish Independent, the village, which has little more than 300 residents, doesn’t even have a cafe or restaurant, nor any public toilets to cater to the throngs of TV crews, tourism professionals, news media and CIA agentsthat are descending upon the village in preparation for the president’s visit.

So what does Moneygall have to offer? Well, it has two pubs, one of which – Ollie Hayes Pub – (run by none other than… Ollie Hayes…) will purportedly host the prez as he takes his first sips of Guinness on Irish soil. Though there were some nasty rumours circulating that Obama would be bringing his own beer for the ceremonial pint, it turns out that St. James’ Gate is sending a special barrel brewed for the occasion.

Also in town is Obama’s ancestral parish, where his quadruple-great-grandfather, Joseph Kearney, was christened. It is rumoured that Obama plans to visit the parish and see his family records.

Tourism in Moneygall

If you are planning tourism to the area, the best course of action is to stop off in Moneygall for a pint before continuing onwards to Tullamore, the nearest tourist center, where a number of events will be taking place throughout the summer. Additionally, the Slieve Bloom Mountains cut a huge swath across Co. Offaly, offering a haven of forests, streams, boglands and valleys that are ideal for hillwalkers.

Photo by Flickr user Marieasy

Forests of Slieve Bloom

Co. Offaly is itself a good place to explore Ireland’s biodiversity, as there are a number of walking and hiking destinations further north in the county, and Offaly also has a few historic castles and monastic sites to explore.

Photo by Flickr user bea & txema

Sprawling gardens of Birr Castle

About 30 km from Moneygall, Birr Castle is a 12th century Norman castle with impressive walled gardens and a historic science center that houses a giant 19th century telescope. Also nearby is the Lough Boora Parklands, a protected wetland and forest area where nature enthusiasts will find a diverse number of local flora and fauna in a virtually untouched environment. There are also some unique modern sculptures scattered around the park.

For more information on visiting Moneygall and buying your souvenir Obama shirts, you can check out the gloriously twee Moneygall.com, while Offaly Tourism has some good recommendations for getting further afield in the county.

About Megan Eaves

Travel writer and wanderluster, Megan Eaves is the author of two travel guidebooks and runs the Irish travel website http://www.irishjaunt.com. Having traveled to 25 countries and lived in five, she is an expert on Ireland, China and the American Southwest, where she grew up. She also often writes about her adventures around Europe, especially London, where she is currently living.

5 comments

  1. Offaly and north Tipperary are beautiful areas. I’d also suggest a stop in Roscrea… it’s very close to Moneygall and as a heritage town it’s home to a few nice historic sites.

    For those interested in a virtual tour, you could go on our Google Maps tour of Moneygall – http://irishfireside.com/2011/03/22/exploring-moneygall-before-president-obama-arrives/

  2. And don’t forget Nenagh- it’s hardly as if the last stop of tourist civilization is Tullamore! No Tipp has loads to over- beautiful Lough Derg- Nenagh Castle and Heritage Centre- Roscrea has wonderful historical sites

  3. Pingback: 5 Reasons to Love Ireland | IrishJaunt

  4. @Corey & Nenaghgal – You’re both right! Lots to see and do around Moneygall. I was focusing only on Offaly, but to Tipp, Galway & Clare are all nearby too! Thanks for the input!

  5. Denise

    Obama Cafe now open in Moneygall

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