THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! (Applause.) Hello, Dublin! (Applause.) Hello, Ireland! (Applause.) My name is Barack Obama -- (applause -- of the Moneygall Obamas. (Applause.) And I've come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way. (Laughter and applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I've got it here!
THE PRESIDENT: Is that where it is? (Laughter.)
Some wise Irish man or woman once said that broken Irish is better than clever English. (Applause.) So here goes: Tá áthas orm bheith in Éirinn -- I am happy to be in Ireland! (Applause.) I'm happy to be with so many á cairde. (Applause.)
I want to thank my extraordinary hosts -- first of all, Taoiseach Kenny -- (applause) -- his lovely wife, Fionnuala -- (applause) -- President McAleese and her husband, Martin -- (applause) -- for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you, Lord Mayor Gerry Breen and the Gardai for allowing me to crash this celebration. (Applause.)
Let me also express my condolences on the recent passing of former Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald -- (applause) -- someone who believed in the power of education, someone who believed in the potential of youth, most of all, someone who believed in the potential of peace and who lived to see that peace realized.
And most of all, thank you to the citizens of Dublin and the people of Ireland for the warm and generous hospitality you’ve shown me and Michelle. (Applause.) It certainly feels like 100,000 welcomes. (Applause.) We feel very much at home. I feel even more at home after that pint that I had. (Laughter.) Feel even warmer. (Laughter.)
In return let me offer the hearty greetings of tens of millions of Irish Americans who proudly trace their heritage to this small island. (Applause.) They say hello.
Now, I knew that I had some roots across the Atlantic, but until recently I could not unequivocally claim that I was one of those Irish Americans. But now if you believe the Corrigan Brothers, there’s no one more Irish than me. (Laughter and applause.)
So I want to thank the genealogists who traced my family tree.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: -- right here!
THE PRESIDENT: Right here? Thank you. (Applause.) It turns out that people take a lot of interest in you when you're running for President. (Laughter.) They look into your past. They check out your place of birth. (Laughter.) Things like that. (Laughter.) Now, I do wish somebody had provided me all this evidence earlier because it would have come in handy back when I was first running in my hometown of Chicago -- (applause) -- because Chicago is the Irish capital of the Midwest. (Applause.) A city where it was once said you could stand on 79th Street and hear the brogue of every county in Ireland. (Applause.)
So naturally a politician like me craved a slot in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The problem was not many people knew me or could even pronounce my name. I told them it was a Gaelic name. They didn’t believe me. (Laughter.)
So one year a few volunteers and I did make it into the parade, but we were literally the last marchers. After two hours, finally it was our turn. And while we rode the route and we smiled and we waved, the city workers were right behind us cleaning up the garbage. (Laughter.) It was a little depressing. But I’ll bet those parade organizers are watching TV today and feeling kind of bad -- (applause) -- because this is a pretty good parade right here. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Go Bulls!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Go Bulls -- I like that. (Laughter.) We got some Bulls fans here.
Now, of course, an American doesn’t really require Irish blood to understand that ours is a proud, enduring, centuries-old relationship; that we are bound by history and friendship and shared values. And that’s why I’ve come here today, as an American President, to reaffirm those bonds of affection. (Applause.)
Earlier today Michelle and I visited Moneygall where we saw my ancestral home and dropped by the local pub. (Applause.) And we received a very warm welcome from all the people there, including my long-lost eighth cousin, Henry. (Laughter.) Henry now is affectionately known as Henry VIII. (Laughter.) And it was remarkable to see the small town where a young shoemaker named Falmouth Kearney, my great-great-great grandfather, my grandfather’s grandfather, lived his early life. And I was the shown the records from the parish recording his birth. And we saw the home where he lived.
And he left during the Great Hunger, as so many Irish did, to seek a new life in the New World. He traveled by ship to New York, where he entered himself into the records as a laborer. He married an American girl from Ohio. They settled in the Midwest. They started a family.
It’s a familiar story because it’s one lived and cherished by Americans of all backgrounds. It’s integral to our national identity. It’s who we are, a nation of immigrants from all around the world.
But standing there in Moneygall, I couldn’t help but think how heartbreaking it must have been for that great-great-great grandfather of mine, and so many others, to part. To watch Donegal coasts and Dingle cliffs recede. To leave behind all they knew in hopes that something better lay over the horizon.
When people like Falmouth boarded those ships, they often did so with no family, no friends, no money, nothing to sustain their journey but faith -- faith in the Almighty; faith in the idea of America; faith that it was a place where you could be prosperous, you could be free, you could think and talk and worship as you pleased, a place where you could make it if you tried.
And as they worked and struggled and sacrificed and sometimes experienced great discrimination, to build that better life for the next generation, they passed on that faith to their children and to their children’s children -- an inheritance that their great-great-great grandchildren like me still carry with them. We call it the America Dream. (Applause.)
It’s the dream that Falmouth Kearney was attracted to when he went to America. It’s the dream that drew my own father to America from a small village in Africa. It’s a dream that we’ve carried forward -- sometimes through stormy waters, sometimes at great cost -- for more than two centuries. And for my own sake, I’m grateful they made those journeys because if they hadn’t you’d be listening to somebody else speak right now. (Laughter.)
And for America’s sake, we’re grateful so many others from this land took that chance, as well. After all, never has a nation so small inspired so much in another. (Applause.)
Irish signatures are on our founding documents. Irish blood was spilled on our battlefields. Irish sweat built our great cities. Our spirit is eternally refreshed by Irish story and Irish song; our public life by the humor and heart and dedication of servants with names like Kennedy and Reagan, O’Neill and Moynihan. So you could say there’s always been a little green behind the red, white and blue. (Applause.)
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