Michael Collins, the popular longtime Irish ambassador to the U.S. will reportedly make his farewell lap this summer, as he and wife Marie bid farewell to Washington with a final round of parties.
Last week the power couple hosted a well attended event paying homage to James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses on its annual day of celebration known as Bloomsday.
'It is the only book that has a day every year dedicated to it which is enjoyed by so many people around the world — even if they haven’t actually read Ulysses,' he told the crowd at the embassy’s residence in Kalorama.
Bloomsday, The Gathering, Culture Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day — all are part of Collins's extensive diplomatic portfolio. 'We have an extraordinary manifestation and outburst of affection for Ireland,' he told the Washington Post. 'Not just the Irish, not just the Irish-Americans, but seemingly everybody else enjoys sharing our day with us.'
An invitation to the embassy is one of the most popular in D.C., the Post reports, in part due to the superior liquor. 'We don’t feel an obligation' to serve Irish whiskey, Collins said. But, 'they happen to be the best. People expect that, and we don’t like to disappoint them.'
The post is an ambitious one and the work non-stop. 'We have to articulate a sense of Ireland today — its modernity, its issues, its challenges, its opportunity, its culture,' said Collins. 'That’s what we do the rest of the year.'
Collins reportedly arrived in D.C. in 2007 and cites the sustained peace in Northern Ireland as a powerful motivating factor. 'To be here in the United States in these years and to be able to say, ‘Ireland is a country at peace.’ That is really something I’m just so proud of. . . it means so much, obviously for us at home, but it means an awful lot to people here as well.'
Collins flew to Dublin for the Obamas’ visit on Sunday and will return for the 50th anniversary of JFK’s historic trip to Ireland. Then it’s back to D.C. for a series of goodbyes.
'Obviously, we understand in our business that you have to move on,' he said, 'but after six years, you’re in pretty deep.' They reportedly plan a farewell tour in the middle of July.
In August Collins heads to Berlin and his successor will make history of her own: Anne Anderson, now Ireland’s representative to the U.N., will be its first female ambassador to the U.S.
Where does the term “the luck of the Irish” come from?