6:09 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. I recognize so many of my friends. This is definitely an Irish group. There’s no doubt about it. (Laughter and applause.)
Taoiseach, I’ll tell you, we’ve become friends — fast friends — over a short period of time. It’s a pleasure to have you, and, on behalf of the First Lady and myself, thank you very much. And Karen and Mike Pence, thank you very much. It’s a great, great group. Great group of people.
Also to all of my friends in the audience, some of them came all the way up from the beautiful island of Manhattan. (Laughter.) They wanted to see Taoiseach. You’re going to see him on Saturday again, where’s he’s going to be a very outstanding part of a certain parade. A pretty big parade, right? Pretty big parade. (Applause.)
I also want to extend my welcome to the Director of Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington, Norman Houston. (Applause.) Thank you. Where’s Norman? Where’s Norman? (Applause.) Hello Norman — who’s been a friend and a great friend to the United States in his 11 years here. He spent 11 years. But he’ll like this year the best. (Laughter.)
It’s wonderful to see so many distinguished business people and society — civil society leaders who are with us today from Northern Ireland.
It’s my great honor to receive this magnificent bowl of Ireland’s famous shamrocks. That’s really nice. That is nice. Thank you very much. Wow. (Applause.)
According to legend, Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, used the shamrock to teach the mystery of the Holy Trinity 1,500 years ago. That’s a long time. Now, many centuries later, the shamrock has become a symbol of something else as well: the long and beautiful relationship between the American and Irish peoples. That’s a great story.
And a story of the Irish is one of the proud and faithful people full of love, warmth, grit, and resolve. That’s the Irish. It’s a story that is closely woven into our own.
Our shared bonds are traced back generations, and all the way to our nation’s founding. At least eight of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were of Irish heritage. And throughout our history, the United States has been enriched by the vibrant culture and enduring contributions of the truly great Irish people, people that we love. (Applause.)
Americans of Irish descent — and I can tell you that Mike is of Irish decent. Right? (Laughter and applause.) Karen? No? Yes? Karen, too. Wow. I knew I liked them both for a reason. (Laughter.)
But Americans of Irish descent poured their hearts into blazing trails, taming frontiers, and building our nation. They served in every war, fighting to win the Revolution, secure our independence, and to preserve our Union.
And they gave their hard-earned pennies to build the legendary place I know very well, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in New York. Such a beautiful place. Famous and so monumental. (Applause.) Really, it is. And it’s a true monument to enduring faith and the enduring faith of the Irish.
From Walt Disney — which I didn’t know — to F. Scott Fitzgerald — which I did know — countless Americans who helped shape our history and culture have roots that trace back to the Emerald Isle. So, too, have many of our predecessors in the Oval Office, from Andrew Jackson to Ronald Reagan.
Today, more than 30 million Americans — over ten percent of this country, think of it — trace their ancestry back to Ireland. Thirty million Americans. That’s why you have so many politicians. (Laughter.) Even if — even if they didn’t like you, they’d say that. Too many. Right? But they do love the Irish.
Today, more than anything else, the Irish, they stand for strength, and love, and beauty, and they never give up. Right? That’s a trait. They never, ever give up. (Applause.) And the United States of America — and I say this having so many friends from Ireland — has truly been blessed with the luck of the Irish to have you with us.
This week as we celebrate the life of the Apostle of Ireland, we thank you, Taoiseach, for bringing us a bit of greenery and natural beauty from your country.
I look forward to your return next year. In fact, we’ll see you for about, what? Seven more years, I think. (Laughter.) Right? Right? (Applause.) About seven. That’s sort of an interesting concept. Right? (Laughter.) That’s what is going to be.
But I do look forward to your return. I look forward to you being here anytime you want — and that includes you, folks. This is a very, very special group of people, and a very, very special place, Ireland.
Thank you all very much for being here, and God bless you. Thank you. (Applause.)
6:16 P.M EDT