President Obama announced he would nominate Pittsburgh Steelers owner Daniel Rooney as ambassador to Ireland this St. Patrick's Day, hours before meeting with Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

The White House announced Obama's intention to nominate Rooney -- a traditional Republican who vocally backed Obama during the presidential election -- in a statement on the same day in which millions of Irish-Americans are celebrating their heritage.

"I am honored and grateful that such a dedicated and accomplished individual has agreed to serve as the representative of the United States to the Irish people," Obama said in a statement. "Dan Rooney is an unwavering supporter of Irish peace, culture, and education, and I have every confidence that he and Secretary Clinton will ensure America