NBC Gushes Over Obama's 'Irish Roots,' Claims His Ancestors Were 'Community Organizers'

On Monday's Today on NBC, correspondent Norah O'Donnell excitedly touted President Obama's stop in Ireland on his latest European trip as she proclaimed: "The Irish eyes are smiling today as this country welcomes President Obama. And I can tell you that the people here in Moneygall are overjoyed that Obama has Irish roots."

The report opened with a musical rendition of 'There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama,' as O'Donnell described how "Obama's ancestral hometown....got a face lift, a fresh coat of paint and an Obama Café." After discovering from a local priest that Obama's Irish ancestors were well-off shoemakers that may have provided charitable aid to others in the small town, O'Donnell wondered: "So you're telling me that his great, great, great, great grandfather and ancestors were community organizers?"

This was not the first time NBC fawned over Obama's Irish heritage. On the March 16, 2009 Today, weatherman Al Roker offered a similar report from the emerald isle: "In a small pub in Ireland they're still celebrating Obama's victory. Dancing in honor of their adopted son....As St. Patrick's Day approaches in Moneygall the townsfolk join in the chorus, determined to keep hope alive."

The following day, St. Patrick's Day, co-host Meredith Vieira interviewed Irish President Mary McAleese and turned the focus to Obama: "Barack Obama, our new president...I understand much loved here...What is it about Barack Obama that instills in, in the people of Ireland?" McAleese replied: "He arrived at a time when the world was in a very ugly mood of great despair. He had really captured the imagination, particularly of young people."

In her report on Monday, O'Donnell happily noted the number of Irish citizens who claim family ties to Obama: "Truth be told, the more people we talked to, the more claimed a relation." One group of Moneygall residents cheered: "Welcome to Ireland, cousin Obama!"

O'Donnell continued: "Related or not, everyone is thrilled, including pub owner Ollie Hayes." She asked Hayes: "You're now going to be known around the world as the man who served Barack Obama a pint of Guinness in Moneygall. How does that make you feel?" Hayes replied: "Brilliant. Brilliant. I will take it to the grave."

Concluding the segment, O'Donnell declared: "So you can see they're quite excited here. And Obama is going to wrap up his visit to Ireland with a big speech at College Green in Dublin, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of people."

Here is a full transcript of the May 23 report:

7:48AM ET

MEREDITH VIEIRA: President Obama is kicking off his week-long European tour today. The first stop, Ireland, where he will explore his ancestral roots. NBC's Norah O'Donnell is in Moneygall, Ireland. And Norah, good morning to you.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Good morning or dia dhuit ar maidin as we in Gaelic. The Irish eyes are smiling today as this country welcomes President Obama. And I can tell you that the people here in Moneygall are overjoyed that Obama has Irish roots and that he's going to brave this wind today to come visit his ancestral home.    

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: A Pint For the President; Obama Visits Ancestral Homeland in Ireland]

GROUP SINGING: O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara. There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama.  

O'DONNELL: In the heart of Ireland is the tiny town of Moneygall.

BARACK OBAMA: It turns out that I have Irish heritage.

[Cheers and applause]

OBAMA: I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So we claim to be the guys who put the 'O' in Obama and made him Irish.

O'DONNELL: Obama's ancestral hometown, so small it's just a block long. Population, 300. Why were you surprised?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, he doesn't actually look like anyone in Moneygall.

O'DONNELL: This hamlet got a face lift, a fresh coat of paint and an Obama Café. Why are kids so excited about it?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Because it's Barack Obama. He's kind of like the most famous person on Earth.

O'DONNELL: Henry Healey is Obama's 8th cousin.

HENRY HEALEY: From here in 1850, Falmouth Carney, Barack Obama's third great  grandfather, closed the door and left for the United States.

O'DONNELL: Obama's ancestors worshiped at this very church, Temple Harry Anglican. Records show they were shoemakers.

CANON STEPHEN NEILL [MODREENEY RECTORY]: We also know that would have meant they would have been better off than most people in the area, who were bringing help to the suffering.

O'DONNELL: So you're telling me that his great, great, great, great grandfather and ancestors were community organizers?

NEILL: Absolutely. That's where it comes from. We're taking credit for that.

[LAUGHTER]

O'DONNELL: Obama has almost 100 cousins?

NEILL: Yeah, absolutely, in Ireland, yeah. And more by the day.

[LAUGHTER]

NEILL: I actually have to investigate whether I'm related.

O'DONNELL: Truth be told, the more people we talked to, the more claimed a relation.

GROUP: Welcome to Ireland, cousin Obama!

O'DONNELL: Meet Pat the baker, maker of Barack's brack, a tea bread. And you're related to the President?

PAT THE BAKER: I am and I have relations in Philadelphia.

O'DONNELL: Related or not, everyone is thrilled, including pub owner Ollie Hayes. You're now going to be known around the world as the man who served Barack Obama a pint of Guinness in Moneygall. How does that make you feel?

OLLIE HAYES: I know. Brilliant. Brilliant. I will take it to the grave.

O'DONNELL: And if by any chance you're lucky enough to have an Irish name you might just get your own song.

GROUP SIGNING: There's no one as Irish as Norah O'Donnell.

O'DONNELL: So you can see they're quite excited here. And Obama is going to wrap up his visit to Ireland with a big speech at College Green in Dublin, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of people. Meredith.

VIEIRA: Alright, Norah O'Donnell, thank you very much.

VIEIRA: Alright, Norah O'Donnell, thank you very much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC