George W. Bush photo

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

March 16, 2001

Taoiseach, thank you very much, sir. We're so honored you're here. Laura and I welcome you and welcome our guests. Thank you all for coming. We accept this crystal of shamrocks, not just as a symbol of Ireland but as a symbol of a strong friendship between our nations, our shared values and shared history and shared hopes. Thank you for continuing this Saint Patrick's Day tradition. And we really appreciate this wonderful gift.

But Saint Patrick's Day is also a time for everyone to reflect on Ireland's many gifts to the world. We are thankful, first, for all that Ireland and the Prime Minister have done to further the cause of peace in Northern Ireland. There's an Irish expression, "The work praises the man." The peace that holds today in Northern Ireland is no small measure a tribute to the Prime Minister and his courageous leadership. And I assured him, and will continue to do so, that the United States stands ready to help in any way that the governments involved need.

The world is also thankful for the thousands of peacekeepers Ireland sends to other troubled corners of the globe, everywhere from Kosovo to East Timor. And we're thankful for the generous development aid Ireland sends to the world's poorest nations.

But Ireland's most precious gift to the world has been the Irish. No nation has benefited more from Irish talent and industry than the United States. You've given us Presidents, nine signers of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, so many Irish served as volunteers in the Continental Army, a lord in Parliament lamented, "We have lost America through the Irish." [Laughter]

Today, over 44 million Irish Americans reinforce the natural bonds of friendship between our nations. The United States is proud of our strong ties of trade and investment and proud that they have contributed to the strong economy that you have led. We look forward to working even more closely with Ireland, particularly now that it serves on the U.N. Security Council.

According to legend, Saint Patrick returned to Ireland after hearing the Irish people beckon him in a dream to "Come and walk among us once more." Well, today, it is a world that beckons the Irish to continue walking among us and sharing with us the rich culture, the large hearts, and good works.

So Mr. Prime Minister, America is proud to call Ireland a friend, not just on Saint Patrick's Day but on every day.


NOTE: The President spoke at 10:36 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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