BaileNuachtAithisc an Taoisigh

Remarks by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD at Library of Congress lunch, Wednesday 18th May 2016



Mr Mao, Congressmen, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great honour to join you for lunch today at the Library of Congress.
I’m sure you will share the sense of the rightness of this location, Independence Avenue, for considering Ireland’s journey to freedom and democracy.
This time 100 years ago Americans were reading the news of rebellion and then execution in Ireland.
The Rising making the front page of the New York Times for no fewer than 14 days.
There was no doubt that the sounds of the shots fired on those bright May mornings in Kilmainham Gaol defied the prevailing South Westerlies to be carried first across the Atlantic ocean and then across the American nation.
The names of the dead patriots were spoken in kitchens, factories, subways, firehouses, police stations, classrooms, churches.
To this day and to these celebrations, they are remembered.
I am proud to be here today as Taoiseach to commemorate the Rising.
I do so representing Ireland’s new Partnership Government, which took office just over a week ago.
It is a government unlike any other in our country’s history.
We are disparate political groups united in our ambition to build a strong economy and a fairer society for all our people.
And today I am happy to say to all of you that we will continue to work with the US to maintain peace and prosperity across our island.
In these commemorations we remember, reflect and re-imagine.
And it is right that we do so here in this magnificent library one of America’s most revered cultural institutions.
And I thank the Librarian of Congress, Mr David Mao and library Trustee, Mr Tom Girardi, for hosting us today.
For a while 100 years ago in terms of the Illumination carried out in our ancient monasteries the marginalia became centralia.
Ireland a tiny country at the edge of Europe leaped suddenly into the consciousness of a continent ravaged by war.
Our Proclamation of Independence was inspired by your Declaration of Independence the US cited in the document itself.
That proclamation of the Irish Republic speaks of “our exiled children in America”, the great Irish diaspora here in America among them a predecessor of Tom’s as Librarian John Russell Young, born in Country Tyrone in 1840.
And today, I thank the Library for collating some of the papers in the collection relating to 1916. You have done magnificent work.
You bring it to life in a way that makes us feel almost as if we are eavesdropping on history.
The voices urging support of our cause even the intervention of President Woodrow Wilson himself flying from the pages.
Among them, we can hear Congressman Dyer of Missouri introducing his resolution to Congress calling on the US “to express the horror of the American people at the summary execution of the Irish patriots who, following the inspiration of the American Revolution attempted to erect a republican form of Government”.
That close relationship of friendship and family, hope and history, between our two nations, has survived to this day.
I can think of no more fitting place than in the shadow of the US Capitol, that great symbol of democracy, to remember all those, on either side of the Atlantic, who helped to build a free and independent Ireland.
I want to thank you again for your warm welcome and hospitality here today.
I hope you will be able to attend some of the wonderful cultural performances at the Kennedy Center over the next three weeks as together we mark ‘Ireland 100’ here in this nation’s capital.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh.