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Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Matthew McCloskey Upon His Appointment as Ambassador to Ireland

June 09, 1962

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President, Ambassador, Mrs. McCloskey, Mayor Briscoe, distinguished guests, friends, subcontractors of Matt McCloskey, President Truman:

I want to echo the words of the Vice president in expressing our thanks to Morton and to Peter, to Miss Clooney, who was kind enough to come in January, and to Sammy Davis. We appreciated their expressions of "It was a great honor to come." We will tell them that the last person who entertained us who only sang Happy Birthday was Marilyn Monroe, and look what has happened to her.1 You might not advance your careers, but you are appreciated for what you have done.

1 On the previous day Miss Monroe had been dismissed from a movie she was making for Twentieth Century-Fox Studio.

I also want to commend this idea of the $250 dinner. This is like that story of the award of prizes by the Moscow Cultural Center, the first prize being one week in Kiev and the second prize being two weeks. For $100 you get speeches; for $250 you don't get any speeches. You can't get bargains like that any more!

I am glad also to be here with President Truman. I used to wonder when I was a member of the House how President Truman got in so much trouble. Now I am beginning to get the idea. It is not difficult.

I got a letter, the nicest letter I have gotten, actually, since I have been in the White House, from an official of Bethlehem Steel Company, saying, "You are even worse than Harry Truman."

But he always turns out for the Party, and I must say that he has made the way of all of us much easier. So, Mr. President, we are glad to have you with us today.

In 1945 I visited Ireland and stayed with David Gray, who was our Ambassador to Ireland, who was a first cousin of Franklin Roosevelt. He also indulged. Gray was a distinguished Episcopalian of English descent. He told me he had had some discussions with the Irish Government at that time. He said, "Let me say just one thing to you." He said, "Don't ever send an Irishman to Ireland as Ambassador. They will play Danny Boy, Wearing of the Green, take him to High Mass, and he is all through."

So in view of the closeness of the election, our first Ambassador there was a Mississippi Baptist, Grant Stockdale, a great success. So we figured we might as well take a chance.

I am sorry to see Matt go. He was about the only businessman we had left. But I must say that in the White House, which has a good number of responsibilities and burdens, that one of the great pleasures and opportunities is to have the opportunity of naming as an Ambassador of the United States a distinguished American like Matt McCloskey. He has played his role. One of the great sights politically is to see Matt McCloskey arguing with the Senator who is being honored at a testimonial dinner about how much the National Committee is going to get at the end of the dinner. And I think that all of us over the years have seen him with the greatest good cheer carry on really the most burdensome task. I can't think of anyone who can represent this country with more credit, who we send with more affection, and who is more fortunate to have going with him Mrs. McCloskey, than our Ambassador.

So I want us all to stand and drink a toast to the man who we are going to all visit in the next year or so. Ambassador and Mrs. Matt McCloskey.

Note: The President spoke in the Grand Ballroom of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. In his opening words he referred to John M. Bailey, Chairman, Democratic National Committee; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson; Thomas J. Kiernan, Ambassador to the United States from Ireland; Mrs. Matthew McCloskey; Robert Briscoe, Lord Mayor of Dublin; and former President Harry S. Truman.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Matthew McCloskey Upon His Appointment as Ambassador to Ireland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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