Each year the Irish Prime Minister (An Taoiseach) visits the White House on or around St. Patrick's Day for what has become known as the Shamrock Ceremony, where he presents a Waterford Crystal bowl filled with shamrock to the President of the United States in recognition of the two countries special bond. The official exchange and photo op is joyfully followed by a festive reception for guests at the White House. The festivities actually begin much earlier in the day with a sit down St. Patrick's Day lunch. This tradition began, on a much smaller scale, during the Truman administration when, in 1952, the Irish Ambassador to the US John Hearne dropped off a box of shamrock plant to the White House. Ironically President Truman was not home at the time but rather on vacation.
So what's all the fuss about?
To answer that question we need to go back to the founding of the countries. Anyone who has read modern history would have little choice but to appreciate the strong connection between the US and Ireland. A few notables:
- Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence eight (8) were Irish Americans, three (3) of whom were Irish born - James Smith, George Taylor and Matthew Thornton.
- Many Irish fought and died in the American Civil War.
- The Irish Proclamation of Independence (Easter Proclamation) of April 24, 1916 specifically mentions America in its text: