St. Patrick's Day at the White House

Uploaded by whitehouse on 17.03.2011

Mr. Hansard: ♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪ Can you hear me?
Audience Member: No; no.
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
Mr. Hansard: Welcome to the White House.
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
(singing): ♪ Scratching at the surface now ♪
♪ And I'm trying hard to work it out ♪
Audience Member: Shhhhhh.
Mr. Hansard (singing): ♪ So much has gone misunderstood ♪
Audience Member: Shhhhhh.
Mr. Hansard (singing): ♪ And this mystery only leads to doubt ♪
(speaking): Your shushing almost sounds like an instrument.
(singing): ♪ And I didn't understand ♪
♪ When you reached down to take my hand ♪
♪ And if you have something to say ♪
♪ You better say it now, now ♪
♪ 'Cause this is what you've waited for ♪
♪ Your chance to even up the score ♪
♪ And as these shadows fall on me ♪
♪ Now I will somehow, yeah ♪
♪ 'Cause I'm picking up a message, Lord ♪
♪ And I'm closer than I've ever been before ♪
♪ So if you have something to say ♪
♪ Say it to me now ♪
♪ Just say it to me now, now ♪
♪ Who-o-o-o-o-a ♪
♪ Who-o-a ♪
♪ Ahhh, ahh ♪
♪♪ (playing guitar) ♪♪
(cheers and applause)
(speaking): Thank you.
(guitar tuning)
Sorry about that.
One, two, one two.
Would you turn this microphone up a little bit back there?
That'd be great.
Da, dat-dat.
I'd like to dedicate this song to -- it's all the Irish.
We're all drunk.
I'd like to sing this song for a great man,
who I had the pleasure of meeting once.
And I'll sing this from -- I didn't really plan what I was
gonna play, so I just thought it'd come to me up here and this
has come to me, so I'll go with it.
This is for Sergeant Shriver.
(singing): ♪ And of all the money that e'er I spent ♪
♪ I spent it in good company ♪
♪ And of all the harm that e'er I've done ♪
♪ Alas, it was to none but me ♪
(speaking): Close that door, will ya?
(singing): ♪ And for all I've done for want of wit ♪
♪ To mem'ry now, I can't recall ♪
♪ So raise to me a parting glass ♪
♪ Good night and joy be with you all ♪
♪ And of all the comrades that e'er I had ♪
♪ Who would be sorry for my going away ♪
♪ And to all the sweethearts that e'er I've loved ♪
♪ Who would bid me one more day to stay ♪
♪ And as it falls upon my lot ♪
♪ That I should rise and you should not ♪
♪ So raise to me ♪ -- sing it -- ♪ a parting glass ♪
♪ Good night and joy be with you all ♪
(speaking:) And again.
♪ So raise to me a parting glass ♪
♪ Good night and joy be with you all ♪
♪ And if I had money enough to spare ♪
♪ And leisure time to sit awhile ♪
♪ There is a girl in this fair land ♪
♪ Who surely has my heart beguiled ♪
♪ With her long dark hair and ruby lips ♪
♪ She surely has my heart enthralled ♪
♪ So raise to me a parting glass ♪
♪ Good night and joy be with you all ♪
♪ So raise to me a parting glass ♪
♪ Good night and joy be with you all ♪
(snapping fingers)
(speaking): Click your fingers for me.
(singing): ♪ Oh, come on ♪
♪ Baby, don't you wanna go ♪
♪ Oh, come on ♪
♪ Baby, don't you wanna go ♪
♪ Back to the land that formed you ♪
♪ Sweet home, Chicago ♪
♪ Oh, come on ♪
♪ Baby, don't you wanna go ♪
(speaking): Sing it with me.
(singing): ♪ Oh, come on ♪
♪ Baby, don't you wanna go ♪
♪ Back to that land that bore you ♪
♪ Sweet home, Chicago ♪
♪ Well, two and two is four ♪
♪ Four and two is six ♪
♪ You'd better come now, baby ♪
♪ Now, now do it quick ♪
♪ Ah, come on ♪
♪ Baby, don't you wanna go ♪
♪ Back to the land that formed you ♪
♪ Sweet home, Chicago ♪
(snapping fingers)
(speaking): Thank you.
(guitar tuning)
I'm going to sing you one more song.
I can't hear this microphone, is it turned on?
Can you turn it up?
(guitar tuning)
♪♪ (playing guitar) ♪♪
I'm going to sing you a song about a young Irish man locked
up in a Dublin prison missing his girl and it's for the day
that's in it.
And I don't know if he's here or if he's interested but the last
time I sang this song, I sang it with the wonderful Tim Shriver,
who gave me a verse or two.
Are you here -- yeah?
Will you turn me up back there?
It's very quiet.
Will you come and sing this with me?
Come on, buddy.
Sing it (inaudible).
Well, you'll take a verse from where you are, then?
All right, okay.
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
Thanks a lot for listening; I'll finish with this.
This is called The Auld Triangle.
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
(singing): ♪ A hungry feeling ♪
♪ Came o'er me stealing ♪
♪ And the mice were squealing ♪
♪ In my prison cell ♪
♪ And the auld triangle ♪
(speaking): Thank you.
(singing): ♪ Went jingle jangle ♪
♪ All along the banks ♪
♪ Of the Royal Canal ♪
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
♪ The screw was peeping ♪
♪ Humpy Gussy lay sleeping ♪
♪ And I lay there weeping ♪
♪ For my good girl, Sal ♪
♪ And the auld triangle ♪
♪ Went jingle jangle ♪
♪ All along the banks ♪
♪ Of the Royal Canal ♪
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
♪ To begin the mornin' ♪
♪ The screw was bawlin' ♪
♪ Ah, get up, ya bowsie ♪
♪ And clean out your cell ♪
(speaking): Sing it!
(singing): ♪ And the auld -- ♪
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
(speaking): Come on, I can't hear you.
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
(singing): ♪ All along the banks ♪
♪ Of the Royal Canal ♪
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
(speaking): So, the chorus is, "And the auld triangle / Went jingle jangle /
All along the banks / Of the Royal Canal."
It's very simple.
It's a lot of fun.
(singing): ♪ And the auld triangle ♪
♪ Went jingle jangle ♪
♪ All along the banks ♪
♪ Of the Royal Canal ♪
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
(speaking): Who's got a verse?
Anyone got a verse?
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
Hands up.
A hand up?
Have you got a verse?
C'mon, Tim; c'mon.
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
Give it up, folks, for Tim Shriver.
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
Mr. Hansard and Mr. Shriver (singing): ♪ In the female prison ♪
♪ There are 75 women ♪
♪ And among those women ♪
♪ I wish I did dwell ♪
♪ And the auld triangle ♪
♪ Went jingle jangle ♪
♪ All along the banks ♪
♪ Of the Royal Canal ♪
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
Mr. Hansard (speaking): Last one, everybody; last one.
(singing): ♪ And the auld triangle ♪
♪ Went jingle jangle ♪
♪ All along the banks ♪
♪ Of the Royal Canal ♪
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪
(speaking): Thank you!
(speaking Irish Gaelic)
(applause and cheers)
Vice President Biden: Hello, everybody.
Glen, wherever you are, thank you for that entertainment.
I don't know how you got a Shriver to sing, but --
Welcome to the White House, everyone,
and happy St. Patrick's Day.
You know, all of you Irishmen out there, my --
hey, Ambassador Rooney, how are you?
They talk about the luck of the Irish.
My grandfather Ambrose Finnegan didn't like that expression as much.
He liked the expression, he used to say,
if you're lucky enough to be Irish, well,
you're lucky enough.
And I think we're all pretty lucky in here tonight --
lucky to be here at the White House,
lucky to be here about to hear the two people I'm about to introduce.
And I'm fortunate to have the honor of being able to introduce
Fionnuala Kenny and her husband, the Taoiseach.
In this town, in this administration --
it must be a bunch of Englishmen talking back there.
(laughter and applause)
I'm really diplomatic, aren't I?
I'm really diplomatic.
I don't know -- it's in the blood, what can I say?
In this town, the President is known as Michelle Obama's husband.
I am known as Jill Biden's husband.
And after you meet Fionnuala, you'll know why the Taoiseach is
known as her husband.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're here to celebrate friendship between
two great nations, Ireland and the United States,
and two nations that define me the most,
and I expect define most of you.
There's an old Irish proverb -- there's a million of them --
but there's an old Irish proverb that says there is no strength
without unity.
And one of the things that has been the case for a long time is
we celebrate in this house the unity derived from all of the
Irish that have peopled this great country,
40 million of us claim it, and that beautiful Ireland.
And actually, since the birth of America on --
we have on March 17th, 1776, when the British forces under
Sir William Howe evacuated Boston,
literally there was a password to get to George Washington's
encampment, and it was Saint Patrick.
That was the password.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that still works here in the White House.
Just ask Bill Daley or Tom Donilon or McDonough or Brennan,
the entire national security team --
it's still Saint Patrick.
The President is surrounded by us.
Ladies and gentlemen, there have been eight Irish Americans who
signed the Declaration of Independence and a full 22 --
half our Presidents -- have claimed Irish heritage,
including the one you're about to hear from.
You know, my mom Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden used to
say, honey, to be Irish -- and I really mean this -- she said,
to be Irish is about family, it's about faith,
and it's about courage.
She said, without courage you can't love with abandon.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's why she liked Barack
Obama so much.
I think he got used to her calling him "honey" --
-- but she thought that he embodied all those virtues.
And I can tell you from experience of working with him
side by side these last two years, he abounds in courage.
There's also another Irish expression that says,
a good friend is like a four-leaf clover --
hard to find and lucky to have.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have become and have
two good friends in Michelle and Barack Obama.
And after spending the morning with the Taoiseach and his wife,
I hope I found two more friends.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my four friends
and your friends, the President of the United States and
Michelle Obama, as well as the Taoiseach and Fionnuala Kenny.
President Obama: Good evening, everybody.
Audience: Good evening.
President Obama: Welcome to the White House on this beautiful
St. Patrick's Day.
It was remarked upon that the fountain is the appropriate
green this year.
Last year, Michelle asked the White House team to make the
fountain green, and it was a little tepid.
So people just thought there was algae in the fountain.
This year they made sure that there was no confusion,
so we're very happy about that.
I am not going to stand up here very long because,
as the old Irish saying goes, everyone is wise until he speaks.
And I know we've got some entertainment to get to.
But the Irish also tells us that what fills the eye fills the heart.
And tonight, in this room filled with so many friends both old
and new, I can't imagine a better place to be than right
here with the sons and daughters of Ireland --
and those who wish they were.
I want to start by welcoming Taoiseach Kenny and his lovely
wife, Fionnuala.
Please give them a big round of applause.
Now, poor Taoiseach, he's only been in office for a little over a week.
He's already jetlagged.
But I'm honored that he agreed to leave the unpacking for
another day and fly across the ocean to be with us here tonight.
We also have more than a few Irish and Irish American friends
in the house tonight.
I want to thank our very talented performers,
as well as the members of my administration and the members
of Congress who are here.
We are joined by three very Irish governors --
Martin O'Malley, Dan Malloy, and Pat Quinn.
Thank you for coming.
Every year at this time, we're reminded of just how many
strands of green are woven into our American story.
And even though St. Patrick's Day has perhaps been better
known for revelry than reflection --
-- it's also a chance for us to remember how the journey to
America began for so many of our ancestors --
including, as I discovered as I was running for office,
one of mine -- how millions of Irish boarded dank and crowded
ships with a promise to send for their families later,
often with no friends, no money, and nothing but hope waiting for
them on the other side.
Like so many immigrants who came to call this country home,
these men and women were guided by a deep faith and an
unwavering belief that here in America a better life is
available for anybody who's willing to try.
And even though they weren't always welcomed in their new
land, they persevered.
They built and led and defended our country while still holding
fast to their heritage.
And in many ways, what it means to be Irish helped to define to
what it means to be American.
That's why today when we think about a Tip O'Neill --
whose daughter, by the way, is here tonight and his
granddaughter, and it was wonderful to meet them --
-- or a Ronald Reagan --
-- we see an example of how it's possible to argue over policy
without sacrificing friendship; how it's easy to disagree
without being disagreeable, if you make the effort.
When we think about a Henry Ford or a Cyrus McCormick,
we see the ingenuity that has driven generations of Americans
to build the businesses and create the inventions that have
helped makes a nation an engine of prosperity.
When we think about an Audie Murphy or a John King,
two of the hundreds of Irish Americans who have won the Medal
of Honor, we see the heroism and bravery that comes with risking
your own life for your country.
When we think about a family like the Kennedys,
we see a steadfast belief in the importance of service and the
duty each of us has to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves.
In so many ways, the Irish and their descendants have set an
example for us as a people.
But they've also set an example for us as a nation struggling to
be more just and more free.
In 1845, Frederick Douglass, the great fighter for freedom here
in this country, had just published his Narrative of a
Life of an American Slave.
And even as the book was a bestseller,
Douglass began receiving steady streams of threats to his life.
So he decided to embark on a two-year lecture tour of the
British Isles until things cooled down.
He began by spending four months in Ireland,
far from the threat of slave catchers,
where he quickly found common ground with the people locked in
their own struggle against oppression.
As Douglass wrote, "I have spent some of the happiest moments of
my life since landing in this country.
I seem to have undergone a transformation.
I live a new life."
It was at a Dublin rally that Douglass met the Irish
nationalist Daniel O'Connell.
And soon, the two struck up an unlikely friendship.
O'Connell was a fierce opponent of slavery,
and he began calling Douglass "the black O'Connell of the
United States."
For his part, Douglass drew inspiration from the Irishman's
courage and intelligence, ultimately modeling his own
struggle for justice on O'Connell's belief that change
could be achieved peacefully through rule of law.
Daniel O'Connell never lived to see another great emancipator
named Abraham Lincoln put pen to paper and bring slavery to an end.
But the two men shared a universal desire for freedom --
one that cannot be contained by language or culture or even the
span of an ocean.
And stories like this remind us just how deeply intertwined our
two nations are.
Nights like this remind us how much we share.
And so as we celebrate together, let us take a moment to
appreciate all that Ireland has given to America --
the faith we keep, the family we hold close,
the laughter and song and warmth we feel when surrounded by the
ones we love.
On behalf of the American people I want to thank the people of Ireland.
In the years ahead, may our sons and daughters only grow closer.
And now, I would like to present to you the Taoiseach of Ireland.
Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of you.
Prime Minister Kenny: Thank you very much and happy St. Patrick's day.
Mr. President, thank you for your warm invitation to join you
here this evening.
Fionnuala and I are honored on behalf of the Irish people and
delighted to accept your invitation.
On St. Patrick's Day, sometimes we remember some of our leaders
-- Michael Davitt, who began one of the great agrarian movements
throughout Europe; the great Ulster clans of the O'Neills and
the O'Donnells; the O'Connells of Munster --
I've left a book on Daniel O'Connell for your protocol
section, Mr. President.
And dare I say it, the Obamas of Leinster.
Certainly if that's the case, I can tell you that in the history
of the English language, never has a single apostrophe meant so
much to so many.
(laughter and applause)
Yes, you see, there is no one as Irish as Barack Obama.
(laughter and applause)
And may I say, sir, Mr. President,
they're queuing up in the thousands to tell you that in
Moneygall when you visit us in May of this year.
And I want to say this, sir: The news of your decision to visit
Ireland in May has reverberated around the world already.
They're causing a stir that you will see, sir,
when you go there, that you will get a céad míle fáilte,
which is 100,000 welcomes -- the traditional welcome of the Irish people.
I'd like to echo the words of the President,
because as we gather here in the White House this evening,
we do remember the various ways and the different journeys that
people took to get here.
The Irish, driven out by what we called an Gorta Mór,
or the Great Hunger, when the potato crop from the New World failed.
As the writers said, in scattered lines they made for
the quayside, their only sound the slow slap of their souls on
the immigrant flagstones.
But, you see, ours was not a self-contained journey,
because on another Atlantic coast other people were waiting
-- waiting to be herded into ships;
mothers soothing children, perhaps not even their own;
husbands calling for wives; wives calling for husbands.
Two peoples on the far coasts of one ocean,
where in the words of Seamus Heaney,
tireless waves came glinting, sifting from the Americas.
And that was Africa's Cape Coast, and Ireland's Cape Clear.
Two peoples who would cross that single dividing ocean --
the Irish to freedom; the Africans to slavery.
Though they didn't know it, in time theirs were the genes that
would build this great country of the United States of America.
They actually are the genes that unite us here in the White House
this evening, designed by an Irish architect,
to claim and to celebrate Saint Patrick,
who came himself to redeem the soul of a people.
And he -- he was slave.
Mr. President, at Cape Coast Clear,
you said it seemed as if the walls were talking.
They might well have said: respect, mercy, obligation --
never again.
Because I, too, believe in the intense, unyielding,
but compassionate Patrick; that his life unites us here today
not only in our Irish ancestry but also in our common heredity.
As President Kennedy said about his Family of Man two weeks
before he passed away, "If our society is to promote the Family
of Man, then let us realize the magnitude of our task."
And in the places around the world,
nobody knows that more than the man standing behind me,
the President of the United States.
Whether the Family of Man has to be promoted across the valleys
of Kenya, or the mountains of Ireland,
or the scattered islands of Indonesia,
or in the wreckage of Japan with that country's difficulties at
the moment, or whether, Mr. President,
we have to take it to places that are still forgotten around
the world, this is our task.
This is the task of political leaders,
because not only are we leaders but also fathers and parents
teaching our children, our countries' children,
about duty and about obligation, the need to fight cruelty,
the need to fight injustice and inhumanity, wherever it happens.
Our stories, indeed, might be singular but we do know that our
destiny, our children's destiny, is a shared prospect.
Do as I do -- lead, teach by example,
create a future from the unknown.
We're glad, Mr. President, that you will visit us in a short time.
I hope, when you do so, your stay will symbolize the
life-giving bond between Ireland and the United States of America.
We are your gateway to Europe.
And I say again this evening, that gateway is wide open and
continues to be ready for business.
Mr. President, we meet here in this historic building almost at
the spring equinox, when new light returns to our lives.
You will come to us in May, the start of what was known as the
Celtic summer -- or as we call it in the Gaelic language,
in the Irish language, Bealtaine,
the feast of the bright fires.
And when you do, sir, you will return to your own people,
your own place.
Mr. President, you will come, in a way, home to Ireland.
So tonight, let me paraphrase the words of one more famous
than I: Let the world go forth from this time and place.
Let it go forth high and clear into the eves of this great
city; that the bonds between Ireland and America are as warm
and as strong as they've ever been in the history of our two
great countries -- warm and strong and vigorous,
and so they shall remain.
Because we are united, inspired, sustained by our faith --
our faith, I might say, in the audacity of hope.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you.
And God bless you and the people of America and the work you do
for the oppressed and the disadvantaged around the world.
And thank you on behalf of the people of Ireland.
My concluding words are these: I said to the President and the
First Lady outside, I know now that miracles do happen.
The fountain is green and I've arrived in the East Room here in
the White House.
One week in office: enough to build the world --
that's what the creator had.
If we keep this up, Ireland will be great again inside a very short time.
President Obama: Thank you.
All right.
With that, everybody, go ahead and have a party.