The White House will open its doors to the Irish on St. Patrick's Day with a reception that will see prominent figures from all walks of life celebrate March 17.

The reception will top a busy day of meetings between Irish and American leaders.

Tomorrow, Cowen will have lunch with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Cowen is expected to discuss the safeguarding 180,000 cross Atlantic jobs.

Cowen is also likely to discuss the future of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Minister for Foreign Affairs Michael Martin and a Northern Irish entourage that includes Gerry Adams, First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward.

Clinton will attend an American Ireland Fund dinner tonight and will be present at the Capitol Hill lunch with Cowen tomorrow.

The lunch at Capitol Hill will be hosted By the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Up to 90 people will attend the lunch, including National Security Adviser Gen Jim Jones and Messrs Robinson.

Pelosi's son in law's family hails from County Wicklow and her grandchildren have Irish names.

Irish folk group De Dannan will perform at the lunch and will perform again at the Irish ambassadors reception this evening.

Speaking to the Irish Times, Irish Ambassador Michael Collins said, "You couldn't calculate what this is worth to us as a country. It's precious. We certainly don't take it for granted. We work on it intensively."

Cowen will then present Obama with a bowel of shamrock at the White House reception.

The multi cultural Irish dance group from the Bronx, Keltic Dreams, will perform alongside the Washington Pipe Band.

Gabriel Byrne, Colm Tobin and golfer Padraig Harrington will also be in attendance.
 

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