Gallery: Seven years of Enda Kenny visits to The White House

Ahead of what is set to be the Taoiseach's last Shamrock exchange we take a look back at how things have changed over the years

Gallery: Seven years of Enda Kenny visits to The White House

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny listens to the Irish national anthem after his arrival at the Massachusetts Statehouse. Picture by: Elise Amendola/AP/Press Association Images

March 2017 is the 7th time Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, will have attended The White House and met with the US President in or around Saint Patrick’s Day.

There’s a big difference for Mr Kenny this year, his 6 previous visits have all been hosted by President Obama, this year it’s President Trump.

One thing is immediately noticeable to me about the 2017 visit. Despite the change in administration, the access given to the head of the Irish government is unprecedented. 

On a single day the Taoiseach will attend the house of the US Vice President for a breakfast meeting, he will hold a bilateral mid-morning meeting with the US President in the Oval Office, he will attend Capitol Hill for a luncheon while meeting with the Speaker of the House, he will return to The White House for an evening reception hosted by the President and then he will attend a nighttime event thrown by the Irish Embassy.

The interaction between the Taoiseach and a new President will be closely watched and widely reported on this week. Arguably, the ‘Shamrock Ceremony’s’ most powerful days are behind it (Bill Clinton and the peace process) but since Albert Reynolds was Taoiseach the annual trek is one of the highlights of a Taoisigh’s year and there is no sign of us letting go of it anytime soon. 

Here are some things I’ve picked up over the years…

George Bush allowed Irish reporters to travel in his motorcade, Obama didn’t.

One day you’re on top of the world, the next moment you’re flat on your face. I took this picture 15 days before Bertie Ahern was forced to resign.

Irish politician’s suffer ‘face-ache’ in Washington from smiling so much at their hosts. Here is then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin, displaying all the signs of the condition with then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Positioning is key: Here reporters jockey on the terrace outside the Oval office to get the best spot.

After knocking a lamp and making it rock in front of Bush, I came to the conclusion that the best spot is the far sofa beside Obama... And Eileen Brophy of Q102.

The money shot for all sides is the Shamrock.

The shamrock

It has become the symbol the US audience loves and the Irish audience loves to bemoan. Its branding is as strong as ever but here are a couple of curiosities about the journey of the hardy weed that is delivered to the US President every year.

  • A few days ago a diplomatic bag boarded a flight and travelled in style with an accompanying diplomat. Inside, this year’s crop of shamrock.
  • It’ll be kept hydrated and under lock and key until the morning of the Taoiseach’s meeting with President Trump.
  • At The White House the shamrock and the diplomat go through rigorous screening before being allowed pass through the security hut.
  • Over the years Waterford was the bowl of choice but that has been shaken up a bit in recent times (Amazing product placement when you think of it).
  • The rumour is the shamrock is incinerated in The White House furnace shortly after the ceremony.
  • The bowl goes into storage... With all the other bowls.
  • The pictures that are beamed back home is the stuff that upcoming TDs get their shamrocks off to thinking “one day that could be me”.