Next month, Barack Obama will visit an Irish village where his great-great-great-great grandfather made shoes. He is thought to be the 22nd US president to have or claim Irish family, and most recent presidents have visited the country. Why?
A small village of fewer than 300 residents in County Offaly is about to welcome its most famous son.
Moneygall is gearing up for Obamamania on 23 or 24 May, when the president returns to the spot where in 1850 his ancestor Falmouth Kearney, son of shoemaker Joseph, packed his bags and headed off to the US.
Mr Obama's Irish connection, on his mother Ann Durham's side, was unearthed in 2007 and the president announced the visit on St Patrick's Day this year.
Ever since President John F Kennedy was mobbed by crowds in Dungannon, County Wexford, in 1963, nearly every president has beaten the same path across the Atlantic, often in an effort to seek out the ancestral home.
From bogs to prairies
- Early 19th Century: Scotch-Irish protestants from Ulster, big influence on early presidents
- 1840s onwards: Irish Catholics fleeing potato famine and poverty, went to cities
- 1950s: Mostly farmers, some nurses
- 1980s: Skilled workers escape unemployment
- 2010s: Another wave expected
Ireland is the only country, apart perhaps from neighbours Mexico and Canada, so favoured. So how did this small island become such a magnet for leaders from the world's most powerful country?
"It's very simple, Catholic votes," says John Robert Greene, historian and author of dozens of books about US presidents.
"There's not a huge love of Irish tradition, with the possible exception of JFK and Ronald Reagan, not a huge love of Irish culture, with the possible exception of JFK, Reagan and Bill Clinton, but there's a huge love for Catholic votes and particularly Irish Catholic votes.
"That's why there is a pilgrimage every four years and that's why Obama is going."
This will play beautifully in the Rust Belt, former steelmaking cities like Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit, says Mr Greene. Also in New York City and in parts of Massachusetts. And it guarantees exposure in the Catholic newspapers, which aren't traditional Obama supporters because of his stance on abortion.
"I doubt he really wants to be photographed in a cottage like The Quiet Man, but he will," he says, referring to the 1952 film in which John Wayne returns to Ireland to reclaim his family farm in Innisfree Read more