ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland — If President Obama and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, want some extra quality time together at the Group of 8 meeting, they don’t have to go far.
The US cottage at the Lough Erne resort where the summit is being held is just a few yards from the Russian cottage, the closest US neighbor of all the G-8 delegations.
Upon arrival, Obama stepped out of his limousine and wandered over toward a cottage bearing the Russian flag. The cottages overlook a picturesque lake, and Obama took in the sight, chatted with resort staff, then returned to his own cottage.
The proximity is all the more remarkable given the tension between the two leaders over how to deal with Syria. Russia has been supplying arms to the regime of Bashar Assad and opposed US efforts to arm the Syrian rebels.
Irish heritage lesson
Presidential daughters Malia and Sasha got a chance to explore their Irish roots in a visit to Dublin on Monday and picked up certificates of their heritage from a distant cousin.
Michelle Obama took Malia, 14, and Sasha, 12, to the 18th-century Old Library at Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university, where they peered at the birth registry of their ancestors on their father’s side and maps detailing the family’s homestead. Obama’s great-great-great grandfather once lived and worked as a shoemaker in the central Irish village of Moneygall. The tourists visited the library’s famous Long Room, depicted in the “Star Wars’’ series as the home of the Jedi archives. But Sasha had another movie in mind: She thought it looked like something out of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, her mother said.
Henry Healy, the president’s eighth cousin, presented Michelle Obama and her daughters with certificates of Irish heritage during their stop in Dublin. He also gave the family drawings of plans for an Obama Park near his ancestral homelands.
They’ve played Ping-Pong together. They’ve watched basketball. They’ve kept an eye on the European Champions League soccer final last year during the G-8 meeting in Camp David. No doubt, Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain like a good competition. So a visit to a local primary school resulted in yet another match: Which world leader could first fill in a letter on a G-8 painting the students were working on.
The site was Enniskillen Integrated Primary School, the only Protestant-Catholic primary school in County Fermanagh, set up in the wake of a 1987 Provisional Irish Republican Army bombing in town that killed 11 and injured 63. Only 6 percent of Northern Ireland’s schools are integrated, and Obama called for more mixed-faith education in a speech earlier in the day.
The president and the prime minister began painting with their sleeves rolled up.
As Obama chatted with the students, Cameron made headway with his painting. Soon, Cameron was finished and the teacher called out, ‘‘Three cheers for the prime minister. Hip, hip, hooray.’’
Not building on ties
If the leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations have their way, the tie industry may be in trouble. Whether in closed-door session or striding before cameras along Lough Erne, the leaders have been united in freeing their necks from bondage. Onlookers debated whether the leaders had slashed their neckwear budgets in a new round of austerity.