BaileNuachtAithisc an Taoisigh

Remarks by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, Vice President’s Breakfast, 16 March 2017



Mr. Vice President,
Distinguished guests,

I’m delighted to be here this morning for this traditional St Patrick’s Day Breakfast.

Vice President Pence, Karen, thank you for inviting us to the Naval Observatory.

This breakfast is a symbol of the ties that bind our two great nations.

Ours is a relationship of family and friendship, hope and history.

Ours were among the genes that built America.

When we were cast out by occupation, oppression, famine you took us in.

In turn, we took America into our hearts giving it our best and our all first as cleaners, railroad workers, labourers.

Later as teachers, or in the police department, fire department, right here to the Naval Observatory and to the White House itself.

On the morning of 9/11, when death came to America out of a clear blue sky, the men and women streaming out of the Twin Towers represented a litany of Irish names.

But at the same time, the men and women running towards those flames were Irish too.

Some of them never came home. Many more lost their health, their future.

And this week as we celebrate St Patrick’s Day here in America, we also commemorate their lives, their courage, their sacrifice.

Vice President Pence, this morning on the way here to your beautiful home, there were fragments of birdsong in the air.

A sign that winter is coming to an end the new life of Spring is stirring.

On the morning your grandfather Richard Michael Cawley was being processed on Ellis Island – April 11 1923 – unknown to him the US Department of Agriculture was announcing another kind of process.

It was how Americans could be involved in taking a census of the country’s birds.

The project showed that these small, fragile creatures were worth counting, caring about, protecting.

Some of these birds might have been migrants landing on the day like Richard Michael Cawley himself.

That same co-operative effort describes too the relationship between our countries.

And though there is a disparity in our size, the ingenuity of the Irish, both here in America and back in Ireland, has made a vital and I believe unparalleled contribution to life in America.

Henry Ford made our cars.

John Philip Holland took a leaf out of da Vinci’s book and designed the first submarine.

Our Nobel Prize-winner Ernest Walton split the atomic nucleus.

John F Kennedy? He created the dream for the world. Until he became the dream himself. And that dream has never died.

But, even as we approach the 100th anniversary of his birth, still the Irish are not done.

Here, once more, we have an Irish American as Vice President.

Vice President Pence, today I congratulate you on your appointment to this high office. I wish you every success and wish your family great happiness in this house.

The deep relationship between Ireland and America will continue to develop in the years ahead.

As nations so tightly bound by history, story, family, friendship, Ireland and America will never make strange with each other.

On our side of the Atlantic, we will still inspect the light of the dawn, before we pass it across the waters to you.

This is a great day for Ireland and America.

It celebrates our St Patrick who transformed life and lives on our island.

His message was of courage, love, heart, peace, compassion, and inclusion.
I arise today,
Through the strength of heaven,
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock,
I arise today,
Through the mighty strength,
Of the Lord of creation.

On this day, may America and Ireland arise.

May St. Patrick bless all of you, your families, your work.

May he ‘lift the lamp’ of the Spring Equinox on all who dwell in this great country and on all who seek still its freedom, shelter and protection.

Beannachtai na Feile Padraig oraibh go leir.