Minister of State for the OPW and Galway East TD, Sean Canney stressed Ireland’s strong ancestral links to America when unveiling a commemorative plaque for the Washington Monument on behalf of the Irish Government.

The attendance at the ceremony included Ireland’s Ambassador to the USA, Anne Anderson, Gay Vietzke, Superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks, Jeff Reinbold, National Park Service Assistant Director, Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the US Office of Management and Budget and Congressman Brendan Boyle.

Minister Canney said it was a great honour for him to present the plaque, on behalf of the Irish Government, to the National Park Service at the historic Washington Monument which so magnificently commemorates the father of this great country. “I want to acknowledge and thank all those who have made this possible including the National Park Service team, my Oireachtas colleague, Senator Mark Daly and our Embassy here in Washington DC,” he said.

“Last year, as you know, was the 100th anniversary of our 1916 rising, the pivotal moment in Irish history which led to the path for eventual freedom and nationhood. None of this would have been possible without the strong and steadfast support from Irish America. The famous proclamation of 1916 makes reference to only one other country outside of Ireland, “our exiled children in America”. Five of the seven signatories of the proclamation spent considerable time here in the US, again underlining the key ties between our two countries, both historic and contemporary.”

“It is therefore highly appropriate that so many events took place across this country throughout all of last year to commemorate the Easter Rising and I am delighted to be here taking part at what is surely the last of the many hundreds of such ceremonies.

“This plaque will now take its place with commemorative and memorial stones from all across the country as well as from sixteen other nations. In addition to the proclamation, this plaque also pays tribute to Thomas Francis Meagher, an Irish patriot from county Waterford who was banished to Australia as a convict for his efforts to win Irish freedom, escaped to the US, becoming commander of the famous 69th Regiment, the ‘Fighting Irish’, during the US Civil War and the first Governor of Montana and who died 150 years ago this year.

Minister Canney said: “This is yet another year of important commemorations. At the end of this month we mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the most famous Irish American of them all, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Long after his death, his remarkable career and soaring speeches still inspire generations of people around to world to public service and this anniversary will be marked with as much enthusiasm in his ancestral home as here in this country.”

“Finally I want to especially thank Congressman Brendan Boyle of Philadelphia and Donegal and Director Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Mayo who played such an important role in organising events last year on Capitol Hill to mark the centenary, in particular the planting of an Irish Oak by the Taoiseach last May – I went to see it yesterday and am happy to report it is thriving. Thank you for that and for all you do to strengthen Irish American relations and for your presence here today.”

It now gives me great pleasure to formally hand over this plaque to Director Reinbold.