This is the full text of the speech made by Enda Kenny to welcome Barack Obama and his wife to Ireland. Made on May 23rd 2011 in Dublin
"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.
Because today, on this day, the President of the United States, Barack Obama and his first lady, Michelle Obama, come to visit.
To show that he believes in Ireland. 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.
When Fulmouth Kearney started out on the 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.
That boy said goodbye to a ravaged island. Millions had died or were leaving, packing their hopes and their dreams in beside the remnants of a life. Stepping onto ships which, for some, was like stepping into space.
Every one of them, and all their people, are our people: ár muintir féin.
Their past is our past.
Their story is our story.
This evening, my call is directly to those 40-million Irish-Americans. Whether you’re listening or watching in New York or New Haven, or in San Diego or St Louis. And whether you’re Irish by blood, or by marriage, or by desire. We, your family, your Irish family, are right here to welcome you. To follow your president home.
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.
Today, with President Obama, we draw another circle – one in which we tell the world of our unique, untouchable wealth. Wealth that can not be accumulated in banks, or measured by the markets or traded on the stock exchange.
Because it remains intact and alive, deep inside our people.
In the heart-stopping beauty of our country and in the transforming currency of the Irish heart, imagination and soul.
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 Uaisleacht. It has sustained us over the centuries. We pass from mother to daughter, father to son – in our dreams and in our imagining, in our love for our country – our pride in who we are. Long into what must be, and will be, a brighter and more prosperous future .
The president and his first lady are an extraordinary couple.
President Obama is part of that proud past and part of that prouder future.
In 1963, the 35nd President of the United States stirred our hearts. In 1995 the 42nd president lifted our country’s spirits.
But the 44th president is different. Because ladies and gentlemen, he doesn’t just speak about the American dream. He is the American dream. And that is the American dream, come home.
So ladies and gentlemen, let your voices be heard around the globe as I’m honoured to introduce the President of the United States, Barack Obama and the first lady Michelle Obama.
Let’s hear it."