President Obama welcomed Irish Ambassador Michael Collins to the Oval Office today with some interesting news.
"My mother’s family can be traced back to Ireland," President Obama said, "and it turns out that our first Irish ancestor came from the same county that Taoiseach once represented. So we may be cousins. We haven’t sorted that through yet. But even if blood we’re not related by culture and affinity … by friendship we are certainly related."
Collins was joined by Irish Ambassador Michael Collins and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin (pronounced MEE-hull Martin, according to some helpful Irish reporters who have clearly already been celebrating). All three were sporting green ties and shamrock "bouquets" on their lapels.
The president was joined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his national security adviser, retired Gen. Jim Jones.
The president said he was incredibly honored to have Taoiseach there, "an affirmation of one of the strongest bonds of people that exists in the world." The bond and friendship between the U.S. and Ireland is very important, the president said, and as they had been discussing is something they can’t take for granted.
"We are grateful for the lasting friendship that exists between us," said Obama, clad in a pale green tie.
Cowen said that the U.S.-Ireland relationship is "based on substance," and noted that more than 44 million of Ireland’s 70 million diaspora are in the United States.
The president added: "Although I think it’s wonderful that you visited the Oval Office and Washington, what you’re really missing out is the South Side Irish Parade in Chicago, which I think is one of the great events."
He added that he couldn’t have as much fun attending the South Side Irish Parade today as he could have before he became president because he now has the press following him around.
– Jake O’Tapper