Our shared culture and DNA mean US and Ireland simply 'get one another'
On the last day of his visit to Ireland in 1963, US president John F Kennedy said: "It is strange, that so many years and so many generations pass, and still some of us who come on this trip could feel ourselves among neighbours, even though we are separated by generations, by time and by thousands of miles."
I now know exactly how he felt. Over the past two years as US Ambassador, I have travelled the length and breadth of this beautiful island on an extensive range of public, commercial, and cultural visits to cities, towns and villages.
I have many cherished memories. Whether it was walking the streets of Mayo with Vice President Joe Biden; taking in the views on the magical island of Skellig Michael; attending the National Ploughing Championships; grabbing a burger at the Barack Obama Plaza; watching Dublin take on Mayo at Croke Park; sampling the culinary delights of Ballymaloe House; or pulling a pint in John B Keane's pub in Listowel, the welcome was always unbelievably heartwarming. At each stop in each county, the hospitality extended to both myself and my wife Dena underscores the unique bonds and deep ties between our two great countries.