Michelle to sow seeds for a 'green' White House
MICHELLE Obama, wife of US President Barack Obama, is to grow Irish shamrock in the White House garden.
Later this week, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will follow in a long line of Taoisigh when he travels to Washington to present a bowl of shamrock to an American president.
Unfortunately, under strict US security protocols, any plants or foodstuffs presented as gifts to the president are later destroyed as a safety precaution.
However, Living Shamrock, the company that has provided the shamrock for the past decade, will this year also include some shamrock seeds after a special request from the First Lady.
The shamrock is grown in a unique, soil-free gel within hundreds of vials under two acres of glasshouses in Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry.
"Our shamrock is grown in a soil-free environment, so when it arrives in Washington it is still a living plant with the roots intact," director Joe Sugrue told the Irish Independent.
"This means it lasts for more than 12 days and does not wilt. It would even survive for up to a month in a fridge. The shamrock is presented to the president in a special personalised bowl. We are very proud to be associated with providing the shamrock for the president and there is a buzz associated with it," he said.
And he said he would be happy to oblige the First Lady and provide some seeds for the White House's extensive lawns.
The company also supplies shamrock to the Department of Foreign Affairs each year and to members of the Defence Forces stationed abroad.
Rose of Tralee Clare Kambambettu will join Mr Kenny at the St Patrick's Day reception at the White House on Thursday.
Ms Kambambettu received the personal invitation from the Obamas to join them for the festivities in Washington.
While in Washington, she will also attend a business networking lunch hosted by the Irish Ambassador, which will be attended by the Taoiseach.
The reigning Rose was in London yesterday, the city she represented in the 2010 Rose of Tralee, where she led the St Patrick's Day parade.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that newly elected Louth TD and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams will attend the White House St Patrick's Day reception at the invitation of Mr Obama and will also attend the annual speaker's lunch at Congress.