About the Author: Sheila Paskman serves as the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin.
On this St. Patrick's Day as Secretary Clinton and Irish Foreign Minister Martin met with President Obama and Irish Prime Minister (An Taoiseach) Cowen to celebrate the deep Irish-American relationship, the people in Ireland were taking a festive approach to the day. This morning’s St. Patrick’s Day parade highlighted the new ethnic diversity in Ireland, with groups from as far away as India marching in the parade.
The strong American connections in Ireland remain ever-present. One of the big celebratory events of the day will be a special showing of a new episode of The Simpsons that will premiere in Ireland before it will be shown in the United States. Cast members from The Simpsons and the show’s producer James L. Brooks were at the parade this morning to launch the episode, which is about the Simpson family visiting Grandpa’s favorite Irish pub.
The cast from The Simpsons weren’t the only big name Americans in town. For the past two days, the Today Show’s Meredith Viera and Al Roker have been in Dublin broadcasting stories about Ireland. Not to be outdone by the Simpsons, they were also present at today's parade.
The U.S. Embassy in Dublin decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a little early by inviting one of the parade’s featured American groups, Shades (an a cappella group from Yale), to perform at the embassy last week. We invited choral members from several high schools around the city to celebrate the rich African-American rhythms of this amazing group. Needless to say, kids and teachers alike were thrilled with the event. The audience surrounded the Shades' singers immediately after the performance to ask how they had come to be involved in the group.
The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be continuing all week here in Dublin. As people hoist a pint of their favorite brew, they will undoubtedly be indulging in one of Ireland’s great pastimes: figuring out their family connections to famous Americans. This St. Patrick’s Day, President Obama’s Irish connections may take a back seat to the discussions about who can claim connection to the newly named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney.