Twenty eight Irish ministers will travel to 23 countries, visiting several cities, for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world in trips that will add up to more than 225,000 miles.
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny will head the departures list, visiting Washington, D.C., New York and Boston during his U.S. visit. Kenny will meet President Obama at the White House on Friday, March 14; later that day the Obamas will host their annual St. Patrick’s Day party in the White House.
Also in the U.S. will be Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, who will be in New York. Burton will not take part in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade because it excludes gay groups from marching, but Kenny will also be in New York on the 17th and has announced his plans to march.
Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister Jimmy Deenihan will be in San Francisco; Health Minister James Reilly will visit Boston and Cleveland; Transport Minister Leo Varadkar is set for Atlanta and Savannah; Attorney General Maire Whelan will be in Washington, D.C.; Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Dinny McGinley will travel to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia; and Research and Innovation Minister Sean Sherlock will be in Chicago and Kansas.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan will travel to Canada and Justice Minister Alan Shatter will be in Mexico.
The only senior minister who will not be abroad for St. Patrick’s Day festivities is Education Minister Ruairi Quinn.
Photos - Landmarks go green for St. Patrick's Day
In previous years, at the height of the recession, overseas St. Patrick’s Day visits were pared back.
But this year the numbers traveling on long-haul flights is back to the level of the years prior to the 2010 €85 billion ($116bn) bailout program, which Ireland finally exited in December 2013.
Only two visits have been scheduled to Britain this year. They are the planned visit of Communications, Energy and Natural resources Minister Pat Rabbitte to Birmingham and London and that of Minister of State for Housing and Planning Jan O’Sullivan to Scotland.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin will be going to China; Environment, Community and Local Government Minister Phil Hogan is going to the United Arab Emirates; Agriculture and Marine Minister Simon Coveney (New Zealand and Eastern Australia); Children and Youth Affairs Minister Frances Fitzgerald (Japan and Korea); Disability, Equality and Mental Health Minister Kathleen Lynch (Vietnam); Public and Commuter Transport Minister Alan Kelly (Western Australia); and government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe (Lebanon). Trade and Development Minister Joe Costello will visit Singapore.
Most of the other ministers are going to European cities. Among those are Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore, who will be visiting France. Food, Horticulture and Food Safety Minister Tom Hayes is going to Norway and Primary Care Minister Alex White is traveling to Russia.
Small Business Minister John Perry will travel to Spain, Tourism and Sport Minister Michael Ring will be in the Netherlands, New Era Project Minister Fergus O’Dowd will be in Germany, Training and Skills Minister Ciaran Cannon will be in Romania, and European Affairs Minister Paschal Donohoe will visit Belgium and Luxembourg.