By Geneva Sands - 03/20/12 07:37 PM EDT
"Over the last several years, we've been able to strike up a friendship. And you'll notice that even though technically it is not St. Patrick's Day, we like to prolong the party around here," said Obama in the Oval Office. "Technically, most of the Americans who celebrate St. Patrick's Day aren’t Irish anyway, so we shouldn’t go on technicalities."
Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach whose op-ed for The Hill was published today, is in the United States for an extended tour surrounding the holiday. He spent Saturday in Chicago attending the Windy City's St. Patrick's Day parade and rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange Monday.
Obama and Kenny, who both sported green ties, as well as green clovers sprouting out of their pockets, focused their post-meeting remarks on the Irish economy following the 2008 global financial crisis that hit the country's banking sector.
"Obviously for both our countries, one of the biggest priorities is getting the economy moving in the right direction and putting our people back to work. And the Taoiseach described to me the steps that they've taken to try to stabilize the banking system there, to get control of their budget, and to be in position to grow in the future," said Obama.
Obama thanked the visiting prime minister for his hospitality when the president and first lady traveled to Ireland last May.
The president also announced that he had "provided assurances" he and Michelle Obama would return, which Kenny confirmed.
"We referred to the possibility of an opportunity to travel again to Ireland, and the President has confirmed that in due course. Obviously, he's got a little matter to attend to here in America between this and that," said Kenny.
The president traces his roots on his mother's side to an Irish shoe maker who immigrated to the United States in 1850, according to pool reports.
There was even a YouTube hit titled, "There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama," dedicated to the president's "Irish" ancestry.
Obama celebrated the actual St. Patrick's Day with a pint of Guinness at a local Washington, D.C., Irish pub on Saturday.
And lest the festivities end too soon, the Obamas will host a St. Patrick's Day reception in the East Room of the White House Tuesday evening in honor of the official visit.