A Thanaiste, A Airi, a Ard vhaara, agus a dhaoune uaishe. A dhaoine uaisle, tá fáilte rómhaibh go dti Páirc an Fhionnuisce go dtí ceiliúra Lá na Saoirse! (Tanaiste, Lord Mayor, Ministers, and Distinguished guests, you are very welcome to Phoenix Park to the U.S. Embassy’s Independence Day Celebration!)
Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste. (Broken Irish is better than clever English.)
Is Mise Reece Smyth, Ambasador gniomhach vMeirica faoi lathair. Is onuir mór domsa labhairt libh inniu. Ta suil agam go mbaineann sibh sult as an oiche. (I am Reece Smyth, acting US ambassador. It is an honor for me to speak to you today. I hope you enjoy the evening.)
Lord Mayor, Tanaiste, ambassadors, ministers, distinguished guests and friends, thank you for joining us to celebrate the 241st anniversary of the birth of the United States of America.
It is my great honor to stand before you today as the acting Ambassador for the United States. I represent a country that has been a melting pot of diverse peoples, including over 30 million Irish Americans of which I count myself one.
Celebrating the independence of the United States in Ireland is something special and should be a source of mutual pride. Ireland has had a great influence on American history and culture from the beginning of our nation.
George Washington celebrated St. Patrick’s Day to recognize the bravery of his Irish troops in the American revolutionary war.
Our histories and peoples have been intertwined from the first days of American independence, and this process accelerated during the years of the Great Hunger when America took in so many Irish sons and daughters. The Irish gave so many of their bravest and their best, to help build the United States.
Those who immigrated to America endured a dangerous crossing frequently on coffin ships. They arrived hungry, and often penniless. But they did not arrive empty-handed. They brought with them a strong work ethic and an even stronger spirit that would help to build America and played such a crucial role in forging the American culture and identity.
They built railroads and raised skyscrapers. They brought with them a love of words that enriched American journalism and literature. They brought a great reverence for education and created renowned schools and universities across the country. Those Irish immigrants, who helped define the American dream, also wrapped themselves around the American soul.
The United States has forever been enriched by the culture the Irish brought with them. And, Ireland gained a deep connection to America and a powerful diaspora that wants to see Ireland succeed. We see the results of this today in the enduring familial, cultural, and economic ties that exist between our countries.
Over 700 U.S.-owned firms operate in Ireland investing almost 350 billion dollars. Isn’t that amazing? Last year more than 10,000 American students chose to study here, instilling in the next generation a love of Ireland.
And this is not a one way street. What helps Ireland prosper is good for the United States, and vice versa. The two-way economic relationship benefits both countries.
There is a growing pipeline of Irish companies investing and creating jobs in the United States. Irish companies employ almost as many people across the United States as American companies do in Ireland. Think about that for a moment. For every MetLife and United Airlines in Ireland, there is a CRH and Voxpro in the United States. Innovation and creativity are at the core of both Irish and American identities. It’s who we are.
The relationship between Ireland and the United States is beyond special, it is truly unique. As Irish-Americans have prospered, so too has Ireland, thanks in large part to American innovation and investment. Now we find ourselves in a modern, cutting edge Ireland. One that is leading the region once again in economic growth for its third successive year.
All the big names in software and hardware, all the new innovators in fintech, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals are here. America’s business leaders are hard-headed realists who know what’s good for the bottom line. And they choose Ireland for their investments. Why? Because of its talented people. You can train people on skills, but you can’t train someone to take ownership of a project, to come at a job with enthusiasm and a can-do spirit. That’s what American companies find here in Ireland.
As I look out, I see so many of our friends in the business community who have sponsored today’s event and made this celebration possible. Thank you. We have so many of the best and brightest of American companies who are here today in Ireland building prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. The business community, in particular, embodies the dynamic nature of the U.S.-Ireland relationship.
Also, thank you to the Embassy team – both Irish and American – for all of their hard work that went into the meticulous preparations for this event.
It is the talent and creativity of innovative people that add meaning to our shared heritage. These attributes are at the heart of what it means to be Irish and American. We celebrate this day together as family, bound together by a kinship of spirit that links us. It is the intertwining of our history and future that makes the U.S.-Ireland relationship so special. And if I had to be out of my own country on this day, there is no better place to celebrate than with you here in Ireland.
It is normal in our system to have a gap without an ambassador, and our Embassy is designed to carry on until one is appointed. The Embassy team has not been idle since I took the helm on January 20. We are working hard to continue strengthening the economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties between our countries.
In thinking about the U.S.-Ireland relationship, I realize that although Ambassadors come and go, the connection remains deep and enduring –because it is built on unbreakable bedrock. Ireland has a very special status in Washington that transcends politics. I witnessed this in the St. Patrick’s Day meetings in the Oval Office. Republicans, democrats, independents – it doesn’t matter.
There is an American affinity for Ireland that extends beyond the Irish American community. Washington rolls out the red carpet – or should I say, the green carpet – every St. Patrick’s Day. As I sat in the Oval Office with former Taoiseach Kenny and the President, I experienced firsthand the incredible bonds and closeness between Ireland and America. Countries 20 times the size of Ireland don’t have that kind of special status. I am pleased to see that frank conversations between the leaders of our two countries are continuing with this week’s fruitful conversation between President Trump and Taoiseach Varadkar.
Thank you for being here today to celebrate with us America’s independence and the strength of the U.S.-Ireland relationship. Together, we have an extraordinary collective capacity to ensure that this enduring relationship continues for future generations.
Go raibh maith agaibh. Ta suil agam go mbaineann sibh sult as an oiche
Thank you, I hope you enjoy the evening.
Happy Independence Day!