WASHINGTON, D.C. – The White House’s water fountains have been dyed green today to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day but for President Obama the holiday will extend another couple of days.
The president and first lady will host Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Tuesday, culminating in a St. Patrick’s Day dinner at the White House that evening. Earlier in the day House Speaker John Boehner will host the two leaders at his annual Friends of Ireland luncheon on Capitol Hill.
Also on Tuesday the president and Vice President Biden will meet with First Minister Peter Robinson of Northern Ireland.
A statement from the White House says Obama is looking forward to “reciprocating the warm hospitality the Irish people extended to the President and Mrs. Obama during their visit to the Emerald Isle in May 2011.”
Prime Minister Kenny’s visit contributes to an ongoing tradition of Irish leaders visiting the White House around the holiday. When Kenny visited last year, the president said the shared heritage of the two countries created ties that were difficult to match.
“We, obviously, have the strongest possible relationship with Ireland,” he said. “The warmth, the affection, the familial and person-to-person contacts between our two countries extend far beyond any dry policy issues. There is just an incredible bond between our two countries.”
President Obama shares a family relationship with Ireland. Last May he visited the small town of Moneygall in County Offaly, where his maternal great-great-great grandfather emigrated from during the height of the country’s potato famine.
In the mean time President Obama celebrated the day’s festivities with an afternoon stop at a Washington pub, the Dubliner. With the US Capitol building dominating the local skyline, the president ordered a Guinness and shared a toast with the lively, green-decked crowd. He brought two companions from his Moneygall trip: Ollie Hayes, owner of the town public house and Henry Healy, the president’s distant cousin.
Obama wore a pin that read “VIP Guest – Tell ‘em Danny sent you.”
The Taoiseach’s day was spent in Chicago, where he took part in a parade with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff.