The visit of President Barack Obama to Ireland will be truly a lá d'ár saol , says Taoiseach Enda Kenny...
Published 20/05/2011 | 11:25
Together with the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, Mr Obama's visit signals to the world that while Ireland is a small country, we are a significant nation.
Equally, it reminds us here at home, that in these difficult times, Ireland has reliable, attentive neighbours, good friends.
For centuries, Ireland and America have enjoyed a rich, generous relationship. Across Ireland, dollars earned in Framingham and the Bronx kept families and hope alive.
In 1850, when Falmouth Kearney left the King's County for America, he might have hoped, but could hardly have imagined, that his great-great-great grandson, born in Hawaii, would return as the President of the United States.
The moment Airforce One touches down on Irish soil, President Obama comes 'home' as the fulfilment of the American Dream. A dream, which, on his election, regained so much of its allure around the world.
With this historic visit, the young President comes to an old country. For many millions of Irish-Americans it is the old country. And in the coming days, as news crews arrive from all over America and the world, we have the perfect, unmissable opportunity to send out a resounding message of clarity and confidence.
Ireland's extraordinary wealth remains intact, alive and sacrosanct, where it always has been: in the proud territory of our people, the heart-stopping beauty of our country, the powerful currency of the heart, imagination, soul.
This is the Uaisleacht that has sustained us on the island of Ireland for almost 10,000 years.
As the new Taoiseach, I am proud to welcome President Obama to an Ireland working on a deeper context for our business, a new grammar of compassion and responsibility in our public life, a real and broader morality, a politics that is honest, felt and accountable.
This is the new Ireland we are building, together as a society, from the old. The truly 21st century Ireland we can and must now show the world.
President Obama arrives in May, the first month of the Celtic summer, when Ireland is at its most lush and beautiful, loud with birdsong.
We will give him a céad míle fáilte and look forward to doing the same for every one of the extended Irish family, across America, who wish to follow him 'home', either on business, or for the holiday of a lifetime.
President Obama's arrival marks a new episode in the long and lifegiving relationship between our two, proud nations. I am confident that we will make the most of it.