March 17th, 2009
11:37 AM ET
9 years ago

O'bama celebrates St. Patrick's Day


Watch the White House fountain go green. (Photo Credit: CNN/Becky Brittain)

(CNN) – Just call him President O'bama.

President Obama is celebrating Ireland Tuesday, welcoming Irish leaders to the Oval Office for St. Patrick’s Day - and turning the White House fountain water green.

The president, along with Vice President Joe Biden — who often points to his own Irish Catholic roots - will receive Taoiseach Brian Cowen and first minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson and his deputy, Martin McGuiness, at the White House Tuesday. The president is set to participate in the traditional shamrock ceremony, where Taoiseach Cowen will present him with a bowl of shamrock, an event honored by past presidents.

But a touch of a Chicago tradition has come to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The White House fountains have been dyed green to mimic Chicago’s tradition of dyeing the river green for St. Patrick’s Day. White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers made the suggestion to the Obamas and they “loved it,” according to a White House aide.

President Obama also took the holiday to announce his intent to nominate the ambassador to Ireland. In a statement released Tuesday, President Obama said Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Daniel Rooney will become the highest-ranking diplomat to Ireland.

Later in the day, the president and Irish leaders will head to Capitol Hill for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's St. Patrick's Day lunch. Irish festivities will continue into the evening as the first family hosts a holiday reception in the White House. The Obamas will welcome several traditional Irish music groups for a St. Patrick’s Day party in the East Room and State Dining Room, including have invited Shannon Rovers, the official pipe band of the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Festival, along with Celtic Thunder, a group of five male Celtic singers. Also on the program will be Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Patrick

    I wonder if he's having any of his AIG buddys attend? I'm sure the taxpayers are paying for his entertainment! Aren't you all entertained? Way to spend it wisely! Does it strike anyone as odd, that Obama is the first President in Office to book himself for a late night comedy show? (Jay Leno)....HMMM...Let's dye the fountains green, party til the sun comes up, give out 3 Trillion dollars to be spent freely, and go on Jay Leno to talk ourselves up....Ha Ha...Now that is Funny!

    March 17, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Pinch me

    I guess the president really is a chameleon.

    March 17, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. PaulMoATX

    patNY – "what a waste of tax payers' money, dying the fountain green! how many babies have to go without formula and clean diapers just so that the Obamas can see green water from their windows!"

    Oh cry me a river, or in this case, a fountain. Your argument is self-sustained and irrational. Why don't you go do something productive, like volunteer instead of whining, because it's sure getting old.

    March 17, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. Depressed

    The green fountain is our money pouring out of the WhiteHouse......

    March 17, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. TX DEM

    Pat NY
    "what a waste of tax payers' money, dying the fountain green! how many babies have to go without formula and clean diapers just so that the Obamas can see green water from their windows!"

    Im guessing....none? Any proof that if the Obama's hadnt dyed the water green, that more money would have somehow found its way to some charity to feed and clothes babies? You're really reaching. Relax a little...its easy to find negativity in anything.

    You be the change that you desire....try being positive sometimes. And if not positive....try silence....

    March 17, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. lawling

    patny: So your local soup kitchens and food banks are going to see a donation from you today then? Rocks in glass houses and all that.

    Also, the Roony's are awesome. I'm glad he got nominated.

    P.S Dok Harris for Mayor!

    March 17, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. seg from houston

    Have a feeling this was Michelle's doing, not the Prez's!

    March 17, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Penny

    A box of dye about a $2.50. Joy to millions of Irish Americans – priceless.

    March 17, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Shari, NY

    From "Barack Obama was part Irish. His third great-grandfather on his mother’s side, Fulmoth Kearney, is Obama’s most recent connection with the “old country.” When Fulmoth arrived in New York in 1850, all of Obama’s other maternal ancestors were already here".

    Happy St. Pat's Day Pres Obama, and be proud of every drop of mixed lineage in your blood!!!

    March 17, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Sharon, Rockford, IL

    It is refreshing to finally see a first family use the White House to symbolize what America is really about. They realize that they are only the caretakers and are doing everything they can to bring it back to the people. I think it's terrific. I'm tired of the elitist attitude of some of our past presidents. They are supposed to represent all of us and the majority recognize holidays and celebrations with special little nuances It's nice to see we have a truly "American" president.

    March 17, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. cheryl brooks from cali

    I love you Mr. President. You're so cool!!! Happy St. Patrick's Day! I wish us all the luck of the Blarney Stone!!!!!

    March 17, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. geraldine

    I wish I've had as many green beers today as this White House and the media that covers it to have had, each of the last 56 days.

    Too bad the hangover is left to the rest of us that actually work hard, pay taxes, keep our mortgages current and donate money to charity. If you fall into one of those categories, the next few years get a bit darker with each passing day and new piece of legislation.

    March 17, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. my comments

    Oh, green puke!

    March 17, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |

    Pat in Ny –WAH WAH Where is your Respect for the Irish today SNAP OUT OF IT! HAPPY ST PATTYS DAY ALL!

    March 17, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |

    Pat in Ny –WAH WAH Where is your Respect for the Irish today SNAP OUT OF IT! HAPPY ST PATTYS DAY ALL!

    March 17, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. cnnnewser

    I love the green fountain in front of the white house!!!
    Our white house is alive again!

    March 17, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Island girl

    Relax!!! It is a tradition in Illinois to dye the Chicago River green on St. Pat's Day. The Obama's are just enjoying a bit of home away from home in addition to celebrating a day that many Irish look forward to.

    March 17, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. WaitandSeeIndie

    While it is sometimes entertaining to read the comments from the R's and the D's, it is also amazing in the types of comments. I wish Obama luck with the Irish reps and hope that he treats them better than he treated the British Prime Minister.

    March 17, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. thomas

    You might say that since he has been president for less than two months, he is still a little green. Boooo! Hisss!

    March 17, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    @ patNY

    You know...I was gonna do a "3, 2, 1" for this article but I figured even the dumbest of GOPer minions would know better than to make themselves sound so stupid as to wonder how much taxpayer money is being "wasted" on dying a self-contained water system's water green. Seriously guys need to grow up. The point "my friend" is to make a point, not just toss out the same garbledigook in response to every single thing that comes your way, relevant or not.

    March 17, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    @ obama-mama, who said Barrack O'Bama, .000003% Irish, 99.999997% Awesome"

    Huh? The only part that's not awesome is the Irish part? Someone fix the schools quick!

    March 17, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. yuri

    Bein' partly from an Irish ancestry, BHO'd better show some loyalty to the Irish custom, long cherished in the US, prticularly, in the windy city, which formed the backdrop for the fleein' scene for Harrison Ford in the movie "Fugitive", when he was bein' chased by Tommy Lee Jones and party.

    March 17, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. sensible Cape Coral FL


    The celebration of St. Patrick's Day is a celebration of our nation's great diversity, you know, the thing that makes us really GREAT.
    "E PLURIBUS UNUM" is much more than just a slogan or motto.

    Besides it an opportunity for a party, especially for those who don't take themselves too seriously like you.

    March 17, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. MD

    Very cool. Love how they feature everyone's culture on these special occassions. I'm African American not Irish but I get it. I really get it. Great way to showcase the United States...

    March 17, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. Adele

    I think its great.

    March 17, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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