John Hennessey-Niland: Large nation, a big heart and a huge future
'NO larger nation" was President John F Kennedy's elegant phrase as he addressed the Seanad and the Dail in Leinster House 50 years ago this June on his historic visit to Ireland.
He was reflecting on something that continues to amaze those who watch Ireland, as I have from the US Embassy in Dublin these last three years – its small size is clearly out of proportion to its impact on the world. "No larger nation," he said, "did more to spark the cause of American independence, and independence, indeed, around the world."
As we approach another St Patrick's Day celebration, I can assure you that "no larger nation" enjoys such goodwill in the United States that it can turn rivers green, stop traffic in major cities with parades and even get leaders of both parties in Congress to put aside politics for a moment as they join in the annual St Patrick's Day Congressional lunch. As an Irish-American myself, I am proud to work for Barack Obama, "of the Moneygall Obamas", as he is fond of saying. Ireland and the United States are two countries of very different size and scale, but we enjoy an extraordinary and very special relationship, based on kinship, shared values and genuine affection.