Later that day, speaking to a giant crowd in Dublin, the president told them “I'm Barack Obama, from the Moneygall Obamas. And I've come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way."
Now, more than seven years later, the current occupant of the Oval Office has announced plans to visit the Emerald Isle. On Friday, the White House said President Trump will travel to Ireland in November, as well as to France, where will he commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. It will be Trump's first visit to Ireland since taking office.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar's spokesman said that in Ireland, the two leaders will continue discussion of issues from an earlier meeting in Washington, that will cover topics “including migration, trade, climate change and human rights issues,” the Guardian reported.
Not everyone in Ireland is thrilled about it.
In a call with The Washington Post on Saturday, Eamon Ryan, leader of Ireland's Green Party, said that although he had certain concerns about the Obama administration, including its use of armed drones in the Middle East, “it's a quantum difference with the current administration."
In a statement, Ryan called for the Irish to organize protests. “We're calling on Irish people to tell our Government to cancel this visit; and for them to demonstrate in never-before-seen numbers should they fail to do so,” he wrote on Twitter.
"I can't sit back and let him opt out of the Paris climate agreement,” he told The Post. “You have to protest. That isn't just an American issue, that's an issue for the whole world."
The United States and Ireland have historically had a very close relationship. Tens of millions of Americans claim Irish heritage, including President John F. Kennedy, who famously visited Ireland in 1963. He was the first Irish Catholic to serve in the Oval Office.
Trump, as he has elsewhere in Europe, has proven a much more divisive force in Ireland. On Saturday, Ireland's Labour Party tweeted that Ireland is “an open and tolerant nation. Trump's values are not our values, and there should be no welcome mat laid out for a man of his worldview.” The tweet included a photo whose caption said “the invitation to Trump is unnecessary, unwelcome & unwise."
Brendan Howlin, the Labour leader, tweeted that Trump “has been no friend of democracy or human rights."
"We will always be firm friends of the American people, but Ireland will not welcome a man with Trump's record of discrimination, sexism and lies,” he said.
Trump, the businessman, has already stirred some controversy in Ireland. The Trump Organization owns a golf course in the coastal town of Doonbeg in County Clare. Last year, Trump International Golf Links, Doonbeg, got permission to build a wall around its course to protect it from the sea. Environmentalists protested, saying it will be harmful to wildlife in the area.
Trump wouldn't be the first president to receive a less-than-warm welcome in Ireland. When President George W. Bush visited in 2004, thousands of people turned out to protest him and the Iraq War. The year before, about 100,000 people protested the war on the streets of Dublin.
It's impossible to predict how big any Irish Trump protests in November will be. Ryan said it will probably depend largely on what kind of visit it turns out to be, including whether Trump is given the opportunity to address Ireland's Parliament. But Ryan said he hopes pushback against the visit is “kind of clever."
He told The Post that he wants to make a statement but also doesn't “want to just feed the hate."
"We'll have to do something uniquely Irish,” he said. “We need to do something with a slight Irish twist."