June 4, 1984
The President. President and Mrs. Hillery, Prime Minister FitzGerald, all our new friends, what a wonderful visit this has been for us and what a wonderful homecoming. Your country has given us a whole world of memories and images, from the gentle beauty of Galway to the busy hum of Dublin, from the peacefulness of Ballyporeen to the loveliness of sweet Shannon. You gave us "a hundred thousand welcomes.'' I won't try to say that in Gaelic, but I've mastered at least a bit of your native tongue. I now call Nancy, Mavoureen. [Laughter]
Prime Minister FitzGerald. Very good.
The President. Your warmth has touched our hearts. You've made this traveler feel like one of the family. Now it's time to say goodby, and as I leave, I feel such a tug, and I want to stay with you and laugh and talk some more. There's something in your country that makes the American Irish feel like exiles when they leave as if they're leaving a part of themselves behind.
This is my third visit to your country. I remember my first, 35 years ago. Oh, I was just a lad at the time. [Laughter] I walked the streets of Dublin, and I went by the Abbey Theatre. And I stayed at the Gresham, strolled down O'Connell Street, and saw the bullet marks on the old Post Office. And that night, I followed the sound of music to the entrance of a ballroom there at the hotel. And I peered in and was told that it was a university dance. And all the young men were dressed in white tie and tails, the young women were all in flowing white gowns, and they were doing a whirling waltz. And it was so graceful and so beautiful, it looked like it should have been a scene in some very expensive musical movie. And I wished the world would just slow down a little and make room -- more room for such graciousness.
Well, that's how Nancy and I feel today. We wish the world would just slow down so we could have more time with all of you.
When I came back to Ireland a few years ago, I went out to the west and saw the ruins of the chapel where they say St. Patrick raised the first cross on Irish soil. And nearby, there was a well fed by underground springs from a hill far away. And they told me then, just as we were looking, our guide said it's a wishing well. Well, I should just say that Nancy and I threw in some coins and made a wish. The truth of the matter is we had been in six other countries before we got there. I had a dime and a penny in my pocket. She threw the dime and I threw the penny, and we went home with empty pockets. But we did make a wish. And a few days ago when we landed in Shannon again, our wish came true.
Nancy and I made another wish this morning. We want to come back when my work is done in Washington. By my calculations, that will be in January of 1989. [Laughter] Though I won't make that a promise, because I understand there is some disagreement on whether that should be the date or not. But when I come back, I'll be able to stay longer, and I hope able to see all of you again.
We will never be far apart, Ireland and America. We're tied by ties of blood, ties of history, and by a natural affinity and affection. America loves the Irish. And I hope the Irish will always love America. You're in our hearts forever. And as I leave this place, I think again of the words of a poem:
Pearly are the skies in the country of my fathers,
Purple are the mountains, home of my heart.
Mother of my yearning, love of all my longings,
Keep me in remembrance, long leagues apart.
We will keep you in our remembrance, long leagues apart, and will remember your kindness and your warmth forever.
Thank you, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 3:13 p.m. at Dublin Airport. Following the ceremony, the President boarded Air Force One for the trip to London.