General Martin Dempsey, the Irish American who is President Obama's highest ranking military adviser, has publicly thanked Ireland for allowing US soldiers to use Shannon Airport.

The 60-year-old four-star General is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the US, and has a Master's thesis in Irish literature and a longtime passion for Irish music.

The General spoke to RTE, Ireland's national broadcaster, in Dublin at the weekend where he attended an American football game between Notre Dame and the Naval College.

Shannon Airport is a crucial hub for American forces as they travel to war zones such as Afghanistan, Genera Dempsey revealed, adding that the soldiers really love coming through the Irish airport.

Responding to the ongoing protests the General said he did not know whether critics saw the troops as an inconvenience or if they were angry about the war, but he nevertheless expressed his gratitude to Irish people who support the stopover.

In a wide ranging discussion General Dempsey said there were no plans for US military intervention in Syria. The US had learned lessons from their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan Dempsey added, and had adapted with different outcomes.

Asked about the operation of the Guantanamo holding centre, the General said it was a matter for American politicians, with the military providing the guard forces.

General Dempsey also revealed he has strong Irish connections. All of his grandparents were born in Ireland and he learned some Irish while on holidays as a youngster in County Mayo.