President Joe Biden tried his hand at the cúpla focal for a gala event that supports Irish charities in Washington DC.
“I just want to thank you,” President Biden told attendees.
“A hundred thousand welcomes; I never pronounce it correctly but it’s, I gotta remember it now, ‘Céad Míle Fáiltey’ - is that right?’
“Fáilte!” the crowd replied.
“Fáilte - thank you! A hundred thousand welcomes! I have trouble speaking Gaelic and English.”
The US President was also fulsome in his praise for Ireland and the way she conducts herself on the global stage:
“I see in the Republic of Ireland today — a global force in culture and in the arts; leaders on the world stage; members of the United Nations Security Council; a country with a past that tugs at our hearts and a future that’s going to shape the world.”
The Biden family connection to Ireland is distant but still strongly felt; the President’s great-great grandparents left Mayo and Louth for America on coffin ships and memories of the old country have been passed down through the generations:
“I inherited my mother’s side of the family’s overwhelming pride — overwhelming pride in being Irish,” Mr Biden continued.
“A pride that spoke to both continents’ heart and soul, and drew from the old and the new.”
Mr Biden is the first US President to attend the Gala Ireland Funds Dinner since President Bill Clinton dropped by in 2000 - his final year in office.
Also in attendance was Taoiseach Micheál Martin who was whisked away halfway through after he tested positive for COVID-19. It is understood President Biden is not considered a close contact - although potentially US Speaker Nancy Pelosi who he was sitting next to will be.
It is expected that the St Patrick’s Day event in the Oval Office will still go ahead but that An Taoiseach will dial in remotely.
Main image: US President Joe Biden speaks at a ceremony in Washington DC on December 16th 2021. Picture by: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo