Donegal Pen brothers Ronan and Conor Mc Garvey have made it through US security and secured the biggest scoop of their lives by getting the green light to provide America’s first family with Donegal Pens during their Irish visit this week.
The schoolboys plotted an idea during an interview about their success on Dragons’ Den to target the G8 summit leaders with a gift of a Donegal pen each and they contacted the Embassies and the Lough Erne Resort in Fermanagh where the summit is being hosted. Unfortunately they were informed by the hotel that the British Foreign Office had already selected the gifts for the trip and they assumed they had missed their big chance.
However, on Wednesday afternoon Rónán received a phone call from an official at the US Consulate in Belfast accepting their offer to provide President Obama, his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha with Donegal Pens. Their details were passed to the US Consulate from the American Embassy in Dublin.
The pressure was now on as the pens had to be in Belfast by Friday so Rónán, 16, and Conor, 13, began crafting four very special pens for their special recipients.
They crafted two pens for President Obama and his wife Michelle from Irish bog oak sourced from bog land at Inver, South Donegal, and a native Donegal Oak and Donegal Ash for Malia and Sasha. The pens were presented in a hand-made Irish yew wooden bowl and carefully packed together with information on how the young entrepreneurs started their business in 2009.
On Thursday morning the package was sent by 24-hour courier to the US Consulate in Belfast where Consulate Supervisor Catherine Redmond, who initially contacted the boys and who is gifts officer for the trip, is ensuring they will be presented to President Obama at the G8 summit today, Monday.
For security reasons it was not possible for the boys to be invited to present the pens personally but they are delighted to think that the President of the United States of America and his family are now proud owners of Donegal Pens.
“We thought it was a long shot from day one but we thought it was worth a try. When the hotel told us the gifts had already been selected we kind of forgot about it. Then on Wednesday we got the call to say our offer of gifts was being accepted for the Obama family,” said Rónán.
“It’s a great honour for us and certainly the most high profile people ever to have Donegal Pens. Whether or not President Obama will sign any documents with his pen during the G8 we don’t know but hopefully he’ll use it at some stage. We often watched the film Air Force One but never dreamt that one day something we made would be transported aboard it,” added Conor.
Just last week the boys featured on Belgium TV and have reported a peak in their sales since then. Donegal Pens are not stocked in 29 outlets in Ireland and in three stores in Germany.