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Minister welcomes Obamas' Riverdance visit

1 of 5 The Obamas during a visit to Trinity College Dublin earlier today
The Obamas during a visit to Trinity College Dublin earlier today
2 of 5 The Family were shown around the Long Room
The Family were shown around the Long Room
3 of 5
4 of 5 The Obamas will attend a special performance of Riverdance at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre later today
The Obamas will attend a special performance of Riverdance at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre later today
5 of 5 Earlier the family flew in Belfast
Earlier the family flew in Belfast

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan has said that he is "delighted" the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and her daughters Malia and Sasha will attend a special performance of Riverdance at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre later today.

The Minister, who will also attend the performance, said: "One of Ireland's strongest calling cards internationally is our culture. Our music, dance, art and literature are known the world over.

"Riverdance is an excellent example of this, and I'm delighted that the First Lady and her daughters will attend a special performance this afternoon.

"I know from my visit to China in late 2012 the extent to which Riverdance captivates and excites audiences, and adds to international interest in Ireland and in Irish culture.

"Ireland's cultural and creative industries play a major role in defining a positive image for Ireland abroad whilst at the same time demonstrating Ireland's dynamism, innovation and creativity."

Bryan Dobson will present an RTÉ News Special at 5.00pm on Monday, as the US First Lady and her daughters visit the Gaiety Theatre.

Earlier today the family visited the Long Room in Trinity College where they were welcomed by the Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast.

During their visit they were shown the Book of Kells, a 9th century gospel manuscript written and illustrated by Columban monks, famous throughout the world for its beautifully intricate decoration and representative of Ireland as a seat of art and learning.

The First Lady and her daughters were also given a presentation on their own family genealogy and connections to Ireland, compiled by one of Trinity's own spin out heritage and archives companies, Eneclann.

It researched President Obama's Irish ancestry from Falmouth Kearney, President Obama's second great-grandfather to his seventh great-grandfather, Joseph Kearney. The Kearneys were Church of Ireland members and John Kearney, who was a distant cousin of the President, went on to become the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, and later Bishop of Ossory.

As part of the genealogy exhibition the Obamas were shown an original 19th century map provided by the National Library of Ireland of lands of Gorthgreen from where some of the family originated.

The Obamas also saw the College Harp − Ireland's oldest harp dating from the 15th century and on which Ireland's national emblem is based.

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