George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Saint Patrick's Day Shamrock Presentation Ceremony With Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland

March 17, 2005

Taoiseach, thank you very much, and welcome back to the White House. It's— Laura and I are delighted to continue the tradition of accepting the crystal bowl overflowing with shamrocks. It's a wonderful gift symbolizing Ireland's world-renowned hospitality.

Today is a joyous celebration of the deep friendship between the Irish and the American peoples. The histories and bloodlines of our two countries are deeply intertwined. And that is why, in cities and towns across our Nation, millions of Americans celebrate this feast day of the Apostle of Ireland.

Saint Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to illustrate the mystery of the Trinity. The shamrock has also come to represent the unity that people can achieve when they commit themselves to peace and freedom.

In America, we have a phrase for that— it's called e pluribus unum, out of many, one. You'll find that on the Great Seal of the United States, which, by the way, was largely designed by Charles Thompson, a native of Derry.

The hearts of the Irish burn for freedom, and they brought that love for liberty with them to America. The Irish fought in our Nation's War of Independence, and over the past two centuries, they devoted their blood and sweat to defending and building America. When terrorists struck our Nation, the Irish were well-represented among the firefighters and police officers who sacrificed their lives to save others at the World Trade Center. In a great Irish tradition, marines preparing to retake the city of Fallujah prepared for battle to the strains of Lieutenant Colonel Paul Sweeney's bagpipes echoing across the Iraqi plains.

The Irish have a way of turning adversity into opportunity. About a million came to our shores seeking refuge from the great potato famine. Once they came, they built, and they toiled, and they produced. They constructed railroads and great cathedrals. They even helped build the U.S. Capitol. They added to our literature with a genius, with their words. And, of course, a few even entered politics. [Laughter]

The Irish talent for statesmanship has been evident on both sides of the Atlantic. And today we're proud to welcome a friend of peace and a friend of freedom, my good friend Bertie Ahern.

Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for your tireless work in the struggle against terrorism on Saint Patrick's Island. I appreciate your leadership. I appreciate your strength of character. I appreciate your vision. It takes courage to work the path— to walk the path of peace. And your leadership, Mr. Prime Minister, is appreciated not only in your nation but in ours as well. As you work for peace, our Government and the American people will stand with you.

Today, America and Ireland are united in many ways. The economies of our two countries are closely tied. We're working together to bring freedom and justice to Afghanistan and the Balkans and other countries that have not known it. We share a common commitment to the values preached by Saint Patrick: Liberty under God and the dignity of all human persons.

Taoiseach, we pay tribute to the role the Irish have played in defending and renewing the ideals that Americans cherish. May our friendship remain steadfast, and may the citizens of both our nations enjoy a happy and blessed Saint Patrick's Day. Welcome back.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:25 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Prime Minister Ahern.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Saint Patrick's Day Shamrock Presentation Ceremony With Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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