MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
Well, President Obama will not be visiting Spain on his European trip. He will, however, pay a visit to Buckingham Palace, attend the G8 summit in France and meet with central European leaders in Poland. First, though, the president has some family business to attend to, as NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
SCOTT HORSLEY: Ireland is the first stop on this European tour, and for President Obama, it's a homecoming of sorts. The president can boast of Irish ancestry. So as Prime Minister Enda Kenny explained on St. Patrick's Day, the land of O'Connells, O'Neills, and O'Donnells is also the land of O'Bamas.
ENDA KENNY: I can tell you that in the history of the English language, never has a single apostrophe meant so much to so many.
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HORSLEY: Canon Stephen Neill found Kearney's family records at Templeharry Church, just outside Moneygall. He's been fielding questions about Falmouth's most famous descendent ever since.
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STEPHEN NEILL: It's good fun, but it's pretty tiring.
HORSLEY: Two months ago, on St. Patrick's Day, Mr. Obama announced his plans to visit Moneygall during this European trip. Neill says the village of 296 people has been tidying up in anticipation ever since.
NEILL: All-in-all, the place is looking really very, very well, and I'm sure the president will be very impressed when he comes.
HORSLEY: Irish old-timers can recall when President Reagan paid a visit to his family's village, Ballyporeen, and the temporary lift that gave the town. Neill says many in Moneygall would welcome a similar moment in the spotlight.
NEILL: It's given people something positive to think about. Like yourselves, we've been living through particularly dire economic circumstances, and it's given people, I think, confidence in themselves. And that positivity will - is already reaping rewards in terms of business and tourism. I hope, certainly, in the future, that that will continue to be the case.
HORSLEY: Ireland's recession was deeper than our own, and the Irish economy is only just now beginning to grow again. The country's also had to swallow tough austerity measures in exchange for a European bailout. But the Irish ambassador to the U.S., Michael Collins, insists his country will rebound.
MICHAEL COLLINS: We're very much open for business. Ireland is a country which either - whose business relationship with the United States is of vital importance to us, and the president's visit gives us a real boost and a real opportunity to promote that.
HORSLEY: European leaders have sometimes felt neglected by the Obama administration, which has spent much of its diplomatic energy in Asia and the developing world. Heather Conley, who directs the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says this trip is a chance for Mr. Obama to make amends.
HEATHER CONLEY: The irrational exuberance of Europe when President Obama was inaugurated has now met, two-and-a-half years later, with a daunting list of domestic challenges, international challenges. And we have to understand how this relationship is going to work within that complexity.
HORSLEY: Scott Horsley, NPR News, traveling with the president.
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LOUISE KELLY: This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.
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