A special day out at the Gaiety Theatre with Michelle Obama!

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Foróige June 20, 2013

My name is Máirín McGrath, I am 15 and from Newcastle Foróige Club, Co.Tipperary. On Thursday, June 13th as I was studying for my Junior Cert exams, I received a phone call from Foróige HQ. I was informed about a very important invitation from the US Embassy. Immediately excited at the sound of US Embassy I wondered what this invite could be. I was asked if I was available to go to Dublin the following Monday. Jumping at the chance of going to Dubin I said “Of course!” even though I hadn’t a notion what it was for. Luckily I had no exams that day.

I was told I would be meeting with other members of the Foróige Reference Panel and the Foróige Youth Participation Advisory Committee (YPAC) both of which I am a member of. I was told I might have the chance to meet some famous people and it would be a very exciting and worth-while experience. They were unable to tell me what was happening as it was “TOP SECRET”. I was told that I would get an email with more information the next day. I was curious as to what the email might contain and what I could possibly be doing.

Being the ‘politics junkie’ that I am, I remembered that Barack Obama was coming to Ireland the same day for the G8 Summit. Soon adding one and one together and as I was so impatient I began to do a bit of research aka ‘stalking’ or ‘creeping’ on the other Foróige representatives who knew about our ‘secret expedition’ to Dublin. I found out that Mrs. Michelle Obama, First Lady of the USA and her children would be visiting Ireland and doing some sightseeing while there. I also learned that they would be attending a special performance of Riverdance, but never once did I think that I would be lucky enough to attend this show. It goes without saying that studying went out the window for the rest of that day

On Friday 14th June, I was delighted to get an official invitation from the US Embassy inviting me to a special performance of Riverdance on the following Monday. This was particularly exciting because I knew from media reports that the Obamas were attending that same performance.

Monday finally came and all Foróige representatives met for lunch in Dublin. It's safe to say that everyone there, Foróige leaders included, were extremely excited. Seán Campbell, CEO of Foróige spoke to us briefly about the day. We then made our way to the Gaiety Theatre for Riverdance and the atmosphere around the Gaiety was amazing. After strict-security checks we were shown to the two front rows of the theatre. We listened to John McColgan and Moya Doherty, producers of Riverdance speak about the show and its history. Moya then introduced Mrs. Fionnuala Kenny wife of An Taoiseach, Mrs. Sabina Higgins, wife of our president and Mrs. Michelle Obama, wife of US President Barack Obama. Mrs. Kenny addressed us briefly before introducing Mrs. Obama. Mrs. Obama then began her inspirational speech about the youth and she encouraged the young people of the audience to fulfill their dreams.

We were enthralled by the 50 minute production of Riverdance. Mrs. Obama and her two daughters sat in the audience among children from Moneygall N.S. Despite the fact we never actually got to meet the First Lady and her children, it was an amazing day that will certainly not be forgotten and it was it was an honour for us all to be invited. Thanks to Foróige for giving us such an opportunity!

Máirín is pictured with Henry Healy who is a distant cousin of Barack Obama.