Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister John M. Lynch of Ireland

March 16, 1971

Prime Minister Lynch, Mrs. Lynch, and all of our distinguished guests today:

A few months ago, Mr. Prime Minister, when you welcomed us so warmly to Ireland, we promised that when you came to Washington we would try to give you a real Irish welcome.

This beautiful Washington day in the springtime and this great crowd of people from all over the Washington area, and particularly the schoolchildren from the Washington area, have tried to tell you what the people of this country think of Ireland and of our Irish heritage, because tomorrow, on St. Patrick's Day, everyone in America will be just a little bit Irish, we can assure you.

And on this particular day we want you to know that you are welcome, not only in your official capacity as Prime Minister of your government. We also recall that on another occasion just 12 years ago, President O'Kelly1 came to the United States and celebrated St. Patrick's Day in the United States.

And we are very honored that you, as Prime Minister, would come here on this very special day and will be in Philadelphia tomorrow for the 200th anniversary of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Philadelphia.

When we think of our heritage and of our common bonds, we think of many things. But a moment ago you were referring to the music. The first song that was played by the Marines as they marched in review was the Navy song.
As we heard the stirring Irish National Anthem, I recall at one part of it, and a part that is particularly meaningful to us here and to you in your own country, are the words "sworn to be free." That is the Irish spirit of Ireland. It is the Irish spirit that has also meant so much to America.

And it is significant to note that Captain John Barry, an Irishman of course, was the one who founded the United States Navy, the Navy which has, among all of our services, had such a long tradition of working toward that great goal of being sworn to be free.

So on this occasion, we welcome you because of the close bonds our two countries have, because of the close ties our two peoples have, and also we welcome you because on this occasion we think of what it means to be sworn to be free.

You believe that. We believe that. And together we work for that in our countries and throughout the world.

1 Sean T. O'Kelly, President of Ireland 1945-59.

Note: The President spoke at 10:44 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where Prime Minister Lynch received a formal welcome with full military honors.
Prime Minister Lynch responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon:

My wife and I would like to thank you, sir, Mrs. Nixon, and all you people for the warmth of the welcome that you have extended to us here this morning on the White House lawn.

This official welcome on this lawn symbolizes the warmth and friendliness that have always been shown to Ireland and to the Irish people by you Americans.

We have, my wife and I and my party, in the past few days during our visit to this great country experienced in a very special way that warmth and that friendliness.

You have made us feel at home and, indeed, what Irishman and Irishwoman cannot but feel at home in the United States but nowhere more than here, Mr. President, with you and Mrs. Nixon, do we feel more at home.

As we have traveled through the great country-we have only seen parts of it--we have witnessed what is this great American spirit. We wish that it will long remain in the important role that you Americans have to play in the world.

On this eve of St. Patrick's Day, our national holiday, you will forgive me, Mr. President, if I recall with pride the contribution that men and women of Irish descent and, indeed, of Irish birth have made to the progress, this wonderful progress of this great country. We are proud of that tradition.

And thank you for the applause, because I know you, too, you of Irish birth and Irish descent, are equally proud of that great contribution made to this Nation.

We pray that Providence will smile on this country and on its people. We pray that you, sir, will have the strength--and I know you have the courage--to carry out the onerous duties that have been thrust upon you and your country in this unsettled world.

We know that with your dedication to the principles of freedom that you will not now or ever renege on that trust. We, the small nations of the world, look to you, sir, and look to your great country to uphold the principles of freedom which we hold so dear.

When you were in our country some 6 months ago, Mr. President, you said you were endeavoring and striving to bring to your Nation a generation of peace.

We hope that you will be successful in that striving and in that purpose.

Ba mhaith liom thar cionn Uachtardn na hEireann, thar cionn Rialtas agus muintir na hEireann, Ld'le Phadraig fe mhaise do mholadh dhaoibh go leir, duit-se, a Uachtarain agus Bean Nixon, agus do mhuintir na Stat Aontaithe uile.

I have just in my own ancient Irish tongue wished you, Mr. President, and Mrs. Nixon, your compatriots, a happy and peaceful St. Patrick's Day.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister John M. Lynch of Ireland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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