George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Shamrock Presentation Ceremony With Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland

March 13, 2002

Taoiseach, thank you very much. Laura and I welcome you and Ms. Larkin here to the White House. I want to thank you for this fine gift to the people of the United States. I'm honored to accept it as a symbol of the strong and faithful friendship between our two nations.

Ireland has given many gifts to America throughout our history. This very house was designed by an Irish immigrant, based on your own Leinster House in Dublin, and has since been occupied by more than a dozen Presidents of Irish descent. One of them, President John Kennedy, said on a visit to Ireland, "When my great grandfather left here to become a copper in east Boston, he carried nothing with him except two things, a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty." The Kennedys were among millions of immigrants who came to America with that same faith and the same love of freedom.

As much as any other immigrant group, Irish Americans have shaped this country for the better. They have fought in our wars, like the five Sullivan brothers who died together on one day on one ship in World War II. They helped settle our territories, like David Crockett. They helped build our cities and to this day still embody the spirit of public service. When the rollcall—when the roll was called of the policemen and firemen and emergency workers who died on September the 11th, it included many names like Donnelly and Duffy and Kelly and Sullivan.

Tens of millions of Americans trace their lineage to Ireland, and so many came here in times of grief for a country they left behind. Today, we are glad to see a strong and free and rising Ireland with so much to offer its people and the entire world. The ties of family and values are adding ties of diplomacy and trade, with commerce between our nations quadrupling in just the last 7 years.

September the 11th has reinforced these bonds of friendship. Ireland is a valued member of the international coalition against terrorism. Ireland has allowed American military planes to use its airports and has helped to rebuild Afghanistan. We appreciate your help in a just and vital cause.

America stands with you in another cause, bringing security and stability to the people of Northern Ireland. We've seen great progress since we gathered here a year ago. Many challenges lie ahead, but I am so optimistic that by working together we can meet these challenges and help create a lasting peace.

This morning we remember a good man who spread a gospel of peace. The greatest of Irish names, Saint Patrick, was brought to Ireland a slave and died there a saint. His courage and kindness helped to shape a great and noble culture. Americans are proud of our Irish influence, and we're grateful to our Irish friends.

God bless.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:23 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Celia Larkin, who accompanied Prime Minister Ahern.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a 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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