US President Barack Obama has said he intends to visit Ireland in May.
The US President made the statement while hosting Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the White House for St Patrick’s Day.
There is no official date for the visit yet but Mr Obama is due to travel to Britain in late May ahead of a G8 summit of world leaders in France.
The Taoiseach said President Obama could expect a ‘rapturous’ welcome from the Irish people, and that his visit is a great vote of confidence in our country at a difficult time.
Records have revealed that President Obama has roots in Ireland as an ancestor was a shoemaker in the village of Moneygall in County Offaly, whose son Fulmuth Kearney left for the US in 1850.
The President said he was looking forward to seeing where his ancestors had come from.
Mr Obama’s great-great-great grandfather, Mr Kearney, emigrated to the US in the mid 19th century.
An ancestral grand uncle was a prominent Dublin businessman in the 1700s.
A White House spokesman said the President deliberately chose St Patrick’s Day to make the announcement.
“He (Mr Obama) mentioned he would be seeking the roots of his great-great-great-great grandfather,” he said.
“He recognises his ties to Ireland.”
The spokesman confirmed that no date had yet been set.
The North’s First and deputy First Ministers earlier met President Obama.
Sinn Fein’s Martin Mr McGuinness said: “As we come to the end of the first full uninterrupted Assembly term, we outlined to the President the progress we have made, the challenges we face and our commitment that we would continue to move forward.”
“It would be a tremendous boost if he was able to pay an official visit before the end of this term. Such a visit would further cement the great relationship we’ve enjoyed with successive US administrations during recent years.”