President Obama Addresses the Irish People

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny:
May I begin by thanking the people of Ireland for their
extraordinary warmth and dignity and generosity over
the last seven days. Thank you, people of Ireland. (applause) Now, if there’s anyone out there
who still doubts that Ireland is a place where all
things are possible, who still wonders if the dream
of our ancestors is alive in our time, who still questions our
capacity to restore ourselves, to reinvent ourselves,
and to prosper, well, today is your answer. (crowd cheering) Because today, on this day, the
President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his
first lady, Michele Obama, come to visit! (crowd cheering) ♪♪ Welcome, Mr.
President, and Michele. We’re sure that he
believes in Ireland. (crowd cheering) To make that precious connection
with his Irish family, his Irish roots, as thousands
before him have done, today, the 44th American
President comes home! (crowd cheering) When Falmouth Kearney started
out on his long Atlantic crossing, he might have
dreamed but hardly imagined that one day, his
great-great-great-grandson would return as the President
of the United States. (crowd cheering) That boy said good-bye
to a ravaged island. Millions had died
or were leaving, packing their hopes and their
dreams in beside the remnants of a life, stepping on to
ships which, for some, was like stepping into space. Every one of them and all
their people are our people on (inaudible) Their past is our past. Their story is our story. So this evening, my call is
directly to those 40 million Irish Americans. And whether you’re listening
and watching in New York or New Haven or in San
Diego or St. Louis, whether you’re Irish by blood
or by marriage or by desire, we, your Irish family
are right here! (crowd cheering) We, your family, your Irish
family, are right here, to welcome you, to follow
your President home! Last week — last week, Queen
Elizabeth came to our shores and bowed to our dead. The Irish harp glittered above
the heart of the English Queen. With pride and happiness
and two words of Irish, we closed a circle
of our history — (speaking Irish Gaelic) (crowd cheering) Today, with President Obama,
we draw another circle, one in which we tell the world
of our unique untouchable wealth, wealth that cannot be
accumulated in banks or measured by the markets or traded on
the stock exchange because it remains intact and alive,
deep inside of our people, in the heart stomping beauty
of our country and in the transforming
currency of the Irish heart, imagination, and sole. It’s like the spirit of Leinster
last Saturday in Cardiff. Never give up! Never give up! And never say die! This is what we call our (speaking Irish Gaelic) It has sustained
us over centuries. We pass it from mother to
daughter, from father to son, in our dreams and
in our imagining, in our love for our country
and in our pride of who we are, longing to what must be and
what will be a brighter and more prosperous future. The President and his first lady
are an extraordinary couple. President Obama — (crowd cheering) –is part of that proud past
and part of that proud future. (crowd chanting, Obama! Obama!) In 1963, the 45th President of
the United States stirred our hearts. In 1995, the 42nd President
lifted our country’s spirits. But the 44th President
is different — (crowd cheering) — because, ladies
and gentlemen, he doesn’t just speak
about the American dream, he is the American dream! (crowd cheering) And that is the American
dream come home! So, ladies and gentlemen, (speaking Irish Gaelic) let your voices be heard around
the globe as I am honored to introduce the President
of the United States, Barack Obama and his
first lady, Michele Obama. Let’s hear it! (crowd cheering) The President:
Thank you! (applause) Hello, Dublin! (applause) Hello, Ireland! (applause) My name is Barack Obama — (applause) –of the Moneygall Obamas. (applause) And I’ve come home to find
the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way. (laughter and applause) Audience Member:
I’ve got it here! The President:
Is that where it is? (laughter) Some wise Irish man or woman
once said that broken Irish is better than clever English. (applause) So here goes: Tá áthas orm
bheith in Éirinn –I am happy to be in Ireland! (applause) I’m happy to be with
so many á cairde. (applause) I want to thank my extraordinary
hosts –first of all, Taoiseach Kenny — (applause) –his lovely wife, Fionnuala– (applause) –President McAleese and
her husband, Martin — (applause) –for welcoming
me earlier today. Thank you, Lord Mayor Gerry
Breen and the Gardai for allowing me to crash
this celebration. (applause) Let me also express my
condolences on the recent passing of former Taoiseach
Garrett Fitzgerald– (applause) –someone who believed in
the power of education, someone who believed in the
potential of youth, most of all, someone who believed in the
potential of peace and who lived to see that peace realized. And most of all, thank you to
the citizens of Dublin and the people of Ireland for the warm
and generous hospitality you’ve shown me and Michelle. (applause) It certainly feels
like 100,000 welcomes. (applause) We feel very much at home. I feel even more at home
after that pint that I had. (laughter) Feel even warmer. (laughter) In return let me offer the
hearty greetings of tens of millions of Irish Americans
who proudly trace their heritage to this small island. (applause) They say hello. Now, I knew that I had some
roots across the Atlantic, but until recently I could not
unequivocally claim that I was one of those Irish Americans. But now if you believe
the Corrigan Brothers, there’s no one
more Irish than me. (laughter and applause) So I want to thank the
genealogists who traced my family tree. Audience Member:
–right here! The President:
Right here? Thank you. (applause) It turns out that people take
a lot of interest in you when you’re running for President. (laughter) They look into your past. They check out your
place of birth. (laughter) Things like that. (laughter) Now, I do wish somebody had
provided me all this evidence earlier because it would have
come in handy back when I was first running in my
hometown of Chicago — (applause) –because Chicago is the
Irish capital of the Midwest. (applause) A city where it was once said
you could stand on 79th Street and hear the brogue of
every county in Ireland. (applause) So naturally a politician
like me craved a slot in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The problem was not
many people knew me or could even pronounce my name. I told them it
was a Gaelic name. They didn’t believe me. (laughter) So one year a few volunteers and
I did make it into the parade, but we were literally
the last marchers. After two hours,
finally it was our turn. And while we rode the route
and we smiled and we waved, the city workers
were right behind us cleaning up the garbage. (laughter) It was a little depressing. But I’ll bet those parade
organizers are watching TV today and feeling kind of bad — (applause) –because this is a pretty
good parade right here. (applause) Audience Member:
Go Bulls! The President:
Go Bulls –I like that. (laughter) We got some Bulls fans here. Now, of course, an American
doesn’t really require Irish blood to understand that
ours is a proud, enduring, centuries-old relationship; that
we are bound by history and friendship and shared values. And that’s why I’ve come here
today, as an American President, to reaffirm those
bonds of affection. (applause) Earlier today Michelle and I
visited Moneygall where we saw my ancestral home and
dropped by the local pub. (applause) And we received a very warm
welcome from all the people there, including my long-lost
eighth cousin, Henry. (laughter) Henry now is affectionately
known as Henry VIII. (laughter) And it was remarkable to see
the small town where a young shoemaker named
Falmouth Kearney, my great-great-great
grandfather, my grandfather’s grandfather,
lived his early life. And I was the shown
the records from the parish recording his birth. And we saw the home
where he lived. And he left during the Great
Hunger, as so many Irish did, to seek a new life
in the New World. He traveled by ship to New York,
where he entered himself into the records as a laborer. He married an American
girl from Ohio. They settled in the Midwest. They started a family. It’s a familiar story because
it’s one lived and cherished by Americans of all backgrounds. It’s integral to our
national identity. It’s who we are,
a nation of immigrants from all around the world. But standing there in Moneygall,
I couldn’t help but think how heartbreaking it must have been
for that great-great-great grandfather of mine, and
so many others, to part. To watch Donegal coasts
and Dingle cliffs recede. To leave behind all they
knew in hopes that something better lay over the horizon. When people like Falmouth
boarded those ships, they often did so with no
family, no friends, no money, nothing to sustain their journey
but faith –faith in the Almighty; faith in
the idea of America; faith that it was a place
where you could be prosperous, you could be free, you could
think and talk and worship as you pleased, a place where you
could make it if you tried. And as they worked
and struggled and sacrificed and sometimes experienced great
discrimination, to build that better life
for the next generation, they passed on that faith to
their children and to their children’s children –an
inheritance that their great-great-great grandchildren
like me still carry with them. We call it the America Dream. (applause) It’s the dream that Falmouth
Kearney was attracted to when he went to America. It’s the dream that drew
my own father to America from a small village in Africa. It’s a dream that we’ve carried
forward –sometimes through stormy waters, sometimes at
great cost –for more than two centuries. And for my own sake, I’m
grateful they made those journeys because if they hadn’t
you’d be listening to somebody else speak right now. (laughter) And for America’s sake, we’re
grateful so many others from this land took that
chance, as well. After all, never has
a nation so small inspired so much in another. (applause) Irish signatures are on
our founding documents. Irish blood was spilled
on our battlefields. Irish sweat built
our great cities. Our spirit is eternally
refreshed by Irish story and Irish song; our public life
by the humor and heart and dedication of servants with
names like Kennedy and Reagan, O’Neill and Moynihan. So you could say there’s
always been a little green behind the red, white and blue. (applause) When the father of our
country, George Washington, needed an army, it was the
fierce fighting of your sons that caused the British
official to lament, “We have lost America
through the Irish.” (applause) And as George
Washington said himself, “When our friendless standards
were first unfurled, who were the strangers who first
mustered around our staff? And when it reeled in the light,
who more brilliantly sustained it than Erin’s generous sons?” When we strove to blot out the
stain of slavery and advance the rights of man, we found common
cause with your struggles against oppression. Frederick Douglass, an
escaped slave and our great abolitionist, forged an unlikely
friendship right here in Dublin with your great
liberator, Daniel O’Connell. (applause) His time here, Frederick
Douglass said, defined him not as a
color but as a man. And it strengthened the
non-violent campaign he would return home to wage. Recently, some of their
descendents met here in Dublin to commemorate and
continue that friendship between Douglass and O’Connell. When Abraham Lincoln struggled
to preserve our young union, more than 100,000 Irish and
Irish Americans joined the cause, with units like the Irish
Brigade charging into battle green flags with gold
harp waving alongside our star-spangled banner. When depression gripped America,
Ireland sent tens of thousands of packages of shamrocks to
cheer up its countrymen, saying, “May the message of Erin
shamrocks bring joy to those away.” And when an Iron Curtain fell
across this continent and our way of life was challenged, it
was our first Irish President –our first Catholic
President, John F. Kennedy, who made us believe
50 years ago this week — (applause) –that mankind could do
something big and bold and ambitious as walk on the moon. He made us dream again. That is the story of
America and Ireland. That’s the tale of our brawn
and our blood, side by side, in making and remaking a
nation, pulling it westward, pulling it skyward,
moving it forward again and again and again. And that is our
task again today. I think we all realize that both
of our nations have faced great trials in recent years,
including recessions so severe that many of
our people are still trying to fight their way out. And naturally our concern
turns to our families, our friends and our neighbors. And some in this enormous
audience are thinking about their own prospects
and their own futures. Those of us who are parents
wonder what it will mean for our children and young people like
so many who are here today. Will you see
the same progress we’ve seen since we were your age? Will you inherit futures as big
and as bright as the ones that we inherited? Will your dreams remain
alive in our time? This nation has faced those
questions before: When your land couldn’t
feed those who tilled it; when the boats leaving these
shores held some of your brightest minds; when brother
fought against brother. Yours is a history frequently
marked by the greatest of trials and the deepest of sorrow. But yours is also a history of
proud and defiant endurance. Of a nation that kept alive the
flame of knowledge in dark ages; that overcame occupation
and outlived fallow fields; that triumphed over its Troubles
— of a resilient people who beat all the odds. (applause) And, Ireland, as trying
as these times are, I know our future is still
as big and as bright as our children expect it to be. (applause) I know that because I know it is
precisely in times like these — in times of great challenge, in
times of great change — when we remember who we truly are. We’re people, the
Irish and Americans, who never stop imagining
a brighter future, even in bitter times. We’re people who make that
future happen through hard work, and through sacrifice, through
investing in those things that matter most, like
family and community. We remember, in the words made
famous by one of your greatest poets that “in dreams
begins responsibility.” This is a nation that met that
responsibility by choosing, like your ancestors did, to keep
alight the flame of knowledge and invest in a world-class
education for your young people. And today, Ireland’s youth, and
those who’ve come back to build a new Ireland, are now
among the best-educated, most entrepreneurial
in the world. And I see those young
people here today. And I know that
Ireland will succeed. (applause) This is a nation that met its
responsibilities by choosing to apply the lessons of your own
past to assume a heavier burden of responsibility
on the world stage. And today, a people who once
knew the pain of an empty stomach now feed those
who hunger abroad. Ireland is working hand in hand
with the United States to make sure that hungry mouths are fed
around the world– because we remember those times. We know what crippling
poverty can be like, and we want to make sure
we’re helping others. You’re a people who modernized
and can now stand up for those who can’t
yet stand up for themselves. And this is a nation that met
its responsibilities and inspired the entire world — by
choosing to see past the scars of violence and mistrust to
forge a lasting peace on this island. When President Clinton said on
this very spot 15 years ago, waging peace is risky, I
think those who were involved understood the risks
they were taking. But you, the Irish
people, persevered. And you cast
your votes and you made your voices heard for that peace. (applause) And you responded heroically
when it was challenged. And you did it because, as
President McAleese has written, “For all the apparent
intractability of our problems, the irrepressible human impulse
to love kept nagging and nudging us towards reconciliation.” Whenever peace is challenged,
you will have to sustain that irrepressible impulse. And America will
stand by you –always. (applause) America will stand by you always
in your pursuit of peace. (applause) And, Ireland, you need to
understand that you’ve already so surpassed the world’s highest
hopes that what was notable about the Northern Ireland
elections two weeks ago was that they came and went
without much attention. It’s not because the
world has forgotten. It’s because this once unlikely
dream has become that most extraordinary thing of
things: It has become real. A dream has turned
to reality because of the work of this nation. (applause) In dreams begin responsibility. And embracing that
responsibility, working toward it, overcoming
the cynics and the naysayers and those who say “you can’t”–
that’s what makes dreams real. That’s what Falmouth Kearney
did when he got on that boat, and that’s what so many
generations of Irish men and women have done here in
this spectacular country. That is something we can point
to and show our children, Irish and American alike. That is something we can teach
them as they grow up together in a new century,
side by side, as it has been since our beginnings. This little country, that
inspires the biggest things– your best days
are still ahead. (applause) Our greatest triumphs–
in America and Ireland alike– are still to come. And, Ireland, if anyone
ever says otherwise, if anybody ever tells you that
your problems are too big, or your challenges
are too great, that we can’t do something,
that we shouldn’t even try– think about all that
we’ve done together. Remember that whatever
hardships the winter may bring, springtime is always
just around the corner. And if they keep on
arguing with you, just respond with a simple
creed: Is féidir linn. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Is féidir linn. (applause) For all you’ve contributed to
the character of the United States of America and the
spirit of the world, thank you. And may God bless the eternal
friendship between our two great nations. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you, Dublin. Thank you, Ireland.

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