Richard Nixon photo

Remarks on Arrival at Shannon Airport, Ireland

October 03, 1970

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Lynch, and all of the distinguished guests who are here, and our friends from Ireland:

Mrs. Nixon and I want to express our very great appreciation for your very warm welcome as we set foot on Irish soil. As we come here, we have many thoughts in mind.

First, Mr. Prime Minister, this is a personal visit but also one that is official-official in the sense that our two Governments, as you have indicated, have such close and friendly relations, and I look forward to the opportunity of meeting with President de Valera, with you and members of your Government on Monday to discuss those matters in which we can have further cooperation in the interest of both countries.

And, second, personal in the sense that Mrs. Nixon and I have what is rather rare for us these days, a day off tomorrow. After a rather strenuous trip in which we have visited four countries in Europe we finally get to Ireland. I don't think of any country in the world I would rather have a day off in than Ireland. We are so glad we can have it here.

Now having said that, I have never had that experience before. My wife and our two daughters did have the very warm reception that they had when they came here 3 or 4 years ago. But I have never had the opportunity of driving through the Irish countryside, of going back to where they say my great-great-great - great - great - great - grandparents came from.

I know for sure, however, that in Mrs. Nixon's case the proof is much clearer. As a matter of fact, I can't find anybody in Ireland that will claim me, but I am sure that as far as Mrs. Nixon is concerned that her grandfather, of course, came from Ireland, and if her credentials were open to any question I can tell you that when I married her, her name was Patricia Ryan and she celebrated her birthday on St. Patrick's Day. So that must prove something.

We will be traveling through the Irish countryside today and tomorrow, and having the opportunity that so many Americans have had, to come to this land, to feel the warmth of the reception of its wonderful people, and also to have the opportunity to see the sights that we shall be seeing.

I would say to you finally that in my travels over the world that have taken me to over 65 countries, I have had many very great and warm experiences. I can tell you that none is one that I look forward to more than this one--look forward to it because I do probably claim, as do almost all successful American politicians, an Irish background.

And, second, I look forward to it because I can assure you that we in the United States are very appreciative of the enormous contribution that has been made of those Irish backgrounds to all of American life, not just in the field of politics but in the field of business, in the field of the arts, in any area that you choose. The Irish have added a warmth to the American diverse personality, a sense of humor, a spirit, a courage, character for which we will be eternally grateful.

I am glad to say those words and speak them here on Irish soil.

If I could complete my remarks with what I understand--and I wish I could say it in Gaelic but I am not sure what he said about me, so I won't try to say anything about you--I understand though that the traditional Irish salutation on this occasion, and if you will pardon me for using it I think it fits this occasion so well: Joy be with you all.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 5:35 p.m. in response to the remarks of welcome of Prime Minister John M. Lynch which follow.

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon:

On behalf of the people and Government of Ireland, I welcome you to our country.

I offer you the traditional 100,000 welcomes. I would like to say in our own language: Cuirim romhat, a Uachtardin na Stat Aontaithe agus do cheile, Cead Mile Failte go hEirinn [I give you, Mr. President, and your wife, 100,000 welcomes to Ireland.].

This is the language, Mr. President and Mrs. Nixon, that your forefathers would have welcomed their visitors in. When I say "your forefathers," it is indeed the land of your forefathers. You have both come here before, and then you were very welcome.

Now that you have come again, Mr. President, as President of the great democracy of the United States of America, and you, Mrs. Nixon, as its First Lady, you are more than welcome.

You, Mr. President, coming with all the great demands and pressures on your high office makes us feel doubly honored.

The ties between our two countries have been very, very close over very, very many years. Your coming on this occasion will make these ties even more close.

I hope that your short stay with us will be an enjoyable one for you and Mrs. Nixon. I know that our people will welcome you from their hearts, and I hope that when you leave our shores you will bring with you happy memories of your stay amongst us.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Arrival at Shannon Airport, Ireland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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