Obama Welcomes Irish PM to White House for Extended St. Patty’s Day Celebration

Mar 20, 2012 2:05pm
gty barack obama irish dm 120320 wblog Obama Welcomes Irish PM to White House for Extended St. Pattys Day Celebration

(Image Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama continued to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today by welcoming Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to the White House, where the two leaders reaffirmed the “deep bond” between their countries and discussed ways to strengthen their economic relationship.

“You will notice that even though technically it is not St. Patrick’s Day, we like to prolong the party around here,” Obama, wearing a green tie and a tuft of clover in his suit-jacket pocket, jokingly told reporters after his Oval Office meeting with Kenny. “Technically, most of the Americans who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day aren’t Irish, anyway. So, you know, we shouldn’t go on technicalities.”

Obama expressed his confidence in Kenny’s government to “get Ireland moving again” economically and stressed “the extraordinary benefits of trade, commerce and investment between our two countries.”

Kenny said there are “signs of confidence returning to the Irish economy,” but noted there is still a long way to go toward full economic recovery. “Clearly there are challenges ahead,” he said.

Today’s visit was intended to reciprocate the “extraordinary hospitality” the Irish people extended to the president and Michelle Obama during their trip to Ireland last year. Obama visited the village of Moneygall in May, from where his maternal great-great-great-grandfather emigrated during the height of the country’s potato famine.

“The expressions of affection that I experienced when I was in Ireland, I’m sure you are experiencing in return while you are here because, you know, the American people have just extraordinary affinity and fondness for the Irish people,” Obama said.

After their meeting this morning, Obama and Kenny headed to Capitol Hill for a St. Patty’s Day lunch with lawmakers. Later this evening, the president and first lady will host a St. Patrick’s Day reception at the White House.

Today’s events come just days after the president celebrated the beloved Irish holiday with a surprise visit to a local D.C. pub where Obama enjoyed a Guinness beer with revelers.

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