Barack Obama walked on to the podium in the East Room the White House on St.Patrick's night looking like a man without a care in the world. He knew he was among Irish friends.

Facing him on the floor were 500 Irish American Democrats, many former Hillary supporters. who had come to the White House on this Irish night of nights to celebrate their power and influence in America.

There has been a lot of nonsense spewed since the passing of Ted Kennedy that the Irish are about to lose their clout in Washington that this generation of leaders will pass and no legacy will remain. Tell that to anyone in the packed room on St.Pat's night and watch them laugh.

What nonsense it is too. At the podium and all day on Wednesday both the President and the Vice President, the two most powerful men in the country, were proudly embracing their Irish roots. President Obama jokingly remarked that he wished he had known about them when he was running for office in Chicago. He joked that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had told him he had Kenyan roots.

Joe Biden is far more Irish American, in fact the first Irish Catholic vice president in American history, a distinction he is deeply proud of. His introduction to Obama was sprinkled with Yeats and Heaney quotes,heartfelt rather than read by rote.

It was Biden who insisted on a new wrinkle for St. Patrick's Day, a breakfast at his residence, the Naval Observatory, with the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.

It is not just in the Democratic Party that Irish connections go deep. Last week former President Bush intervened in the Northern Irish crisis, his first such outside engagement since stepping down from the presidency.

His former Northern Ireland envoy Richard Haass recalled how deeply interested and committed to peace in Ireland that Bush was.

As for Bill Clinton, his predecessor he quite simply labels himself Irish every chance he gets even though the ancestry is through the father he never knew, who died before he was born.

There has been a certain revisionist view of Irish America these past few years,stating that power was about to pass with this generation. That theory fits with a certain snobbish set in Ireland where Irish America is considered a deeply suspect invention.

The Irish consul in New York, Niall Burgess, tells an interesting story about a letter he found when preparing to celebrate the 8oth anniversary of the founding of the consulate. It stated that back in 1921 now that the 26 county state had been created it was quite likely Irish Americans would lose interest in Ireland.

It wasn't true then and it is not true now. The White House this St.Patrick's Day was a clear reminder of that fact