Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day with Ronald Reagan

Matt Lewis posted a great story at the Daily Caller this morning about how President Reagan celebrated St. Patrick's Day in 1988:

The Daily Caller | A 'Ronald Reagan' St. Patrick's Day
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so I thought it would be fun to share with you the story of President Reagan’s surprise visit to Pat Troy’s Irish pub in Alexandria, Va.

The event, which occurred in 1988, was retold beautifully by Tom Purcell in 2003.

Here’s an excerpt:
When Troy was finished, he handed the president the microphone. The normally raucous crowd - remember, this was St. Patrick’s Day – became extraordinarily quiet. “They were spellbound,” said Troy. “I’ve never seen a large crowd that attentive in more than 20 years.”
Reagan spoke off the top of his head. He graciously thanked Troy for having him for lunch. He said it was his great surprise — that his advance men set it up, and he was thankful. He talked about his father, an Irishman.
“When I was a little boy, my father proudly told me that the Irish built the jails in this country,” he said, pausing expertly, “then proceeded to fill them.”
The crowd laughed heartily.
“You have to understand that for a man in my position, I’m a little leery about ethnic jokes,” he said. The crowd roared. “The only ones I can tell are Irish.”
He told a story about his visit to Ireland. He went to Castle Rock, the place where St. Patrick erected the first cross in Ireland.
“A young Irish guide took me to the cemetery and showed me an ancient tombstone there,” he said. “The inscription read: ‘Remember me as you pass by, for as are you are so once was I, and as I am you too will be, so be content to follow me.”
As Reagan paused, the crowd eagerly awaited his follow up.
“Then I looked below the inscription,” he said, “where someone scratched in these words: ‘To follow you I am content, I wish I knew which way you went.’”
The crowd roared loud and long, causing the president to deadpan to his advance men: “Why didn’t I find this place seven years ago?”
Here is a video of Reagan's visit to Pat Troy's Ireland's Own Pub:

YouTube | President Reagan visits Pat Troy's Ireland's Own Pub

The notes from the YouTube video:
President Ronald Reagan pays a surprise visit to Pat Troy's Ireland's Own pub in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The President, accompanied by journalist James Kilpatrick, stopped by for lunch and a pint of Harp on Saint Patrick's Day in 1988.

If you come by the pub today you can see pictures and items from the President's visit, preserved in a table right next to the stage.
Hope all of you are having a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

The RNC is selling limited-edition green elephants, named "Patrick," of course

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