The moving St Patrick’s Day speech by Taoiseach Enda Kenny about how much Irish immigrants have contributed to America has been viewed more than 30 million times across the world.
Mr Kenny delivered the speech on Capitol Hill last Thursday in front of President Trump as part of the traditional St Patrick’s festival visit by the Irish Taoiseach to Washington.
The speech went viral with some seeing it as a veiled attack on Trump’s immigration policy, while others took it at face value as a celebration of Irish Americans over the last 200 years and the close links between the two countries.
Mr Kenny said: “The ties that bind our two countries are deep and historic. Ireland and the United States have a unique relationship that goes back to the earliest days of the original 13 colonies.
“Irish born military officers assisted George Washington to win that War of Independence. Indeed they’ve fought in every war for America since then, and this very house was designed by James Hoban from Kilkenny, modelled in part on Leinster House in Dublin where the Irish parliament has met on our own independence since 1922.
“It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate the great St Patrick and his legacy. He too, of course, was an immigrant. And though he is of course the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also the symbol of, indeed the patron of, immigrants.
“Here in America, your great country, 35 million people claim Irish heritage and the Irish have contributed to the economic, social, political and cultural life of this great country over the last 200 years.
“Ireland came to America because – deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, safety and even food itself – we believed.
“Four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore. We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came and became Americans.
“We lived in the words of John F Kennedy, long before he uttered them. We asked not what America could do for us, but what we could do for America and we still do.
“We want to give and not to take. We know the Irish have built the bridges and the roads, protected the public as firefighters and police officers, cared for the sick in hospitals, entertained as poets, singers and writers, served as politicians, judges, legislators…and as entrepreneurs they provided hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans including most recently in exciting technology companies.”
Mr Kenny went on to say that two way trade between Ireland and America is approaching 100 billion dollars a year, and Irish firms employ 100,000 thousand people across 50 states.
He added that Ireland is a small island on the edge or Europe, a natural bridge to the United States and Europe. Ireland would work hard to build better relationships between the US and the European Union.
See the Mr Kenny’s speech in full (Mr Kenny’s speech begins at around the 6.30 mark).
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling