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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

James Kenny
James Kenny
Ambassador to Ireland

March 17, 2006

Ambassador James Kenny
It's great to be here today. It's a very special day for Ireland, and a very special day for Irish-Americans. I am in the White House where we had our bilateral meeting between Ireland and the United States this morning. The President and the Taoiseach had a great meeting to talk about the issues that are of great importance to Ireland and United States. This is the sixth year in a row that President Bush and Prime Minister Ahern have met during St. Patrick's Day week. With that, I look forward to taking your questions.

Vincent, from Hollis, Nh writes:
Ambassador kenny, How would you describe an average day at the office. Also, what classes would you recomend to take in order to start on the path towards becoming an Ambassador?

Thank you

Ambassador James Kenny
The great part about my job is that there is no average day. Your day changes every time the phone rings, but I can honestly say that I have one of the best jobs in the United States government. It's a great privilege and honor to serve President Bush as our country's representative in Ireland.

We work on a lot of different issues such as immigration, bringing peace to Northern Ireland, business development and trade relations and, of course, we help Americans abroad in need of our assistance.

Classes in international relations and world history are always helpful, but I also recommend reading international newspapers every week. In addition, use the U.S. State Department's website at to keep abreast of the latest issues around the world.

Patrick, from chicago writes:
What has been your most enjoyable expereince yet as ambassador to Ireland?

Ambassador James Kenny
Great question, Patrick. I'd have to say that there are many, but two particularly stand out in my mind. The first was when President and Mrs. Bush visited for the U.S.-E.U. Summit in June 2004. The summit was one of the most successful we've had in the last ten years and I was proud to show the President and Mrs. Bush the great country of Ireland.

The second was when I was able to visit the town of Swinford in County Mayo to see the home where my grandfather was born. The hospitality extended to me by my new extended family is something I will always cherish. When my grandfather immigrated to America in 1907, I don't think he ever could have imagined that his grandson would return to Ireland as the U.S. Ambassador.

John, from Denver writes:
Many Multinational Corporations are centered in Ireland. How is that recieved by a culture with such national pride and such traditional values?

Ambassador James Kenny
We currently have almost 600 American companies in Ireland and they have invested over $73 billion in the Irish economy. As a result of this investment, Ireland has prospered and has the lowest unemployment rate in Europe of 4.3%.

In addition, Irish companies have now invested over over $25 billion in the U.S. and have created over 70,000 jobs in America. In fact, an Irish company, Glanbia, is now the largest producer of cheese in America.

Ireland welcomes this investment and looks forward to continued cooperation on a number of trade and development issues.

Rhonda, from Schwenksville, PA writes:
Where can one buy their own shamrocks to grow? Is it a special plant?

Ambassador James Kenny
Yes, the shamrock is a special plant! In fact, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern presented President Bush with a bowl of shamrocks this morning which were grown in Ireland. Pictures and remarks from the event can be found on the White House website.

Jordan, from Bowling Green, Ohio writes:
What has been done lately to help bring peace to Northern Ireland?

Ambassador James Kenny
President Bush is committed to bringing peace to Northern Ireland. This morning, he and the Prime Minister discussed the current situation and how to best move the process forward. We are committed to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998.

At Dublin Embassy, the London Embassy and the U.S. Consulate in Belfast, we work hard on this issue every day and are in constant communication with the parties involved to ensure lasting peace for the people of Northern Ireland.

Des, from Roscommon, Ireland writes:
Ambassador,Happy St Patrick's Day. I am glad that you are enjoying your time here in Ireland. What are the practical ways that you can promote America in Ireland?

Ambassador James Kenny
Des, thanks for your question. I have visited County Roscommon, what a beautiful place!

America is a great country and I am proud to promote it every day through my personal interaction with members of the Irish government and the Irish people.

Ambassador James Kenny
My family and I have enjoyed our time in Ireland for the past two and a half years and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to tell you a little about it here on Ask the White House. Best wishes for a happy and safe St. Patrick's Day to those of you that are Irish and those of you who consider yourself Irish for the day. Erin Go Bragh and God Bless!