Just as the proper pour takes skill and balance, so does governing in these challenging and uncertain times. So may I say Taoiseach, on behalf of the whole House, that we and the people we represent stand with you and your people.
It is the least we can do, really. America, as you know, was founded on a beautiful idea – that all who God created free should be free … and that men and women could, given freedom and liberty, advance their station and live out their dreams. And when that idea has been tested, as happens with ideas, we have been fortunate to count on the luck and the loyalty of the Irish.
Because of the Irish, America is a richer, freer, and yes, a bit noisier country than it would have been. As a matter of fact, many who came over during the famine period originated from the shores of the west coast of Ireland, near a small village in County Mayo called Islandeady. For Ireland’s new Taoiseach, Islandeady is home.
I recently read a poem about Islandeady, written by Pauline Rice. It begins:
‘From the lake in Islandeady there’s a view of seven hills,
Near the ancient Churchyard ruin wherein the Maker tills,
Birds sing sweetly in the trees – waves wash on the shore,
And lap about the anchored boats as fish leap by the score.’
These lines describe the beauty of a part of Ireland where St. Patrick once preached the Gospel, and as the legend goes, drove out all the snakes. ‘I am Patrick,’ he said, ‘a sinner, the least learned of men, least of all the faithful, most worthless in the eyes of many.’ The Apostle of Ireland’s teachings humble us and remind us we are mere mortals doing God’s work here on Earth.
Today we continue a tradition begun by one of my predecessors, Tip O’Neill of South Boston, a great-great-great grandson of Cork. Tip started this event as a show of solidarity at a time when darkness had fallen on parts of the Emerald Isle, and its people yearned for peace and unity.
In that same spirit, if you would all now join me in a toast:
To the Taoiseach and his new government, may it have every success;
And to the friendship between our peoples, may it continue and prosper;
May the good Lord take a liking to you, but not too soon. To your health!”