A NEW US ambassador to Ireland will be appointed early in the new year by the White House.
However, the US Embassy in Dublin is refusing to comment on speculation that former US president Bill Clinton could get the job.
The new appointment will come after outgoing ambassador Dan Rooney announced his resignation from the post.
Mr Rooney said his final goodbyes to embassy staff in Ballsbridge before boarding a flight for his native Pittsburgh – where he co-owns the Steelers American football team.
The 80-year-old, whose last week of engagements included meetings with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins, said it was "an honour and privilege to represent President Barack Obama and the United States of America as ambassador to Ireland."
President Obama's decision on who will replace him at the ambassador's residence in the Phoenix Park has already been subject to mounting speculation with one US newspaper suggesting that former president Bill Clinton would be interested in the job.
A spokesman for the US embassy in Dublin said he didn't know when Mr Rooney's replacement would be announced, saying it was "a matter for the White House".
He said an announcement may not be made for weeks.
The embassy said that it did not comment on diplomatic appointments.
Meanwhile US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is herself stepping down, was asked about speculation that her husband might be Mr Rooney's replacement at an international conference in Dublin at the start of the month.
She said: "I would think my husband would be here many times in the future doing the work he's been doing without having to have the title of ambassador."
The 'Chicago Sun Times' had suggested that Mr Clinton and his wife could relax and wind down in Ireland before she embarks on a mooted run for the White House in 2016.
Mr Rooney was absent from the conference in Dublin due to the sudden death of his daughter Rita the previous week.
His appointment as US ambassador to Ireland was announced in the White House on St Patrick's Day 2009.