BaileNuachtAithisc an Taoisigh

Remarks by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD at tree planting ceremony, Capitol Hill, Wednesday 18 May 2016



Members of Congress, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to join with Congressman Mick Mulvaney and Congressman Brendan Boyle in planting this Irish Oak tree in commemoration of the 1916 Rising.
I want to thank both Congressmen and also Christine Merdon from the US Capitol’s Architect’s office for making this event possible today.
I am aware the planting of a new ceremonial tree on these grounds is a rare honour. It is one which we deeply appreciate.
I am proud to be here representing Ireland’s new Partnership Government, which took office just over a week ago. Our ambition as a Government is to combine all our talents to continue to build a strong economy and also to work towards delivering a fairer society for communities throughout Ireland.
Our country’s special partnership with the United States will continue to be a cornerstone of peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland.
I am conscious of the symbolic value of planting a young Irish Oak that will grow and mature here on the grounds of one of the world’s great monuments to democracy, the US Capitol, especially given the great inspiration the 1916 leaders took from the United States.
Seamus Heaney, one of the greatest Irish poets, said that nothing in nature is more like ourselves than a tree, “standing upright, caught between heaven and earth” and this special tree will serve as a symbol of the deep ties of family and friendship between our two people.
2016 is a special year for the Irish at home and abroad. I am sure that many of your grandparents and great grandparents are among those famous “ exiled children in America” who are specifically referenced in the Proclamation of the Republic.
The influence of the US - in particular of the Irish American community - in support of the efforts to establish a free and independent Ireland, was enormous and without that support Ireland would simply never have achieved its independence. That enduring friendship and support, built on our diaspora of nearly 40 million strong in this country, is a relationship which continues to grow and evolve.
On occasions like this, President Kennedy would often recall the famous story of the French Marshall who once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied ‘in that case, there is no time to lose, plant it this afternoon’.
Thank you all for coming along and my renewed thanks to Congressmen Boyle and Mulvaney for making this event possible.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.