The official name was the St. Patrick’s Business Lunch With An Taoiseach. But the Taoiseach himself, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, had a more practical take on the event. “This is really a sort of working lunch for our country,” said Kenny, in a dark suit and suitably green tie, standing at the head of a ballroom in The Willard InterContinental hotel in Washington, D.C., yesterday afternoon. Hosted by Anne Anderson, Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, and a group of Irish agencies — including Tourism Ireland, which invited Convene — the lunch was designed to strengthen “the ties that bind Ireland to the United States,” Kenny said.
In attendance were people who work with Ireland in a variety of sectors, including politics, business, education, and travel, and Kenny spoke of the importance of using the occasion to become acquainted and reacquainted with some of his country’s most valued partners. “It goes well beyond an economic relationship,” he said. “It is culture, literature, art, sport — anything you can think of. Ireland is in the veins of the States.”
Kenny also used the opportunity to summarize Ireland’s recovery over the last several years, following a devastating economic crisis and recession. And he took full advantage of something that face-to-face programs like yesterday’s lunch can help make easy: looking someone in the eye and saying thank-you. “I want to thank all of you for your consistency in believing that we will get through the economic nightmare that we have come through,” Kenny said. “… There are exciting days ahead, and you are all a part of that.”