Biden at St. Patrick’s Day Lunch: ‘I’m Really Not Irish’ Because I Don’t Drink

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President Joe Biden evoked on Saint Patrick’s Day an Irish stereotype that drinking is prevalent in the Emerald Isle as he delivered remarks Friday at the U.S. Capitol during a themed luncheon with political leaders.

The president, while speaking at the annual Friends of Ireland gathering, recalled visiting Ireland, saying he had been to the country several times but that he went on one particular occasion to find his “actual family members.”

“There were so many, and they actually weren’t in jail,” Biden quipped.

The president said he spent nearly a week in Ireland before noting some of his relatives, the Finnegans, were from County Louth and “if you go to County Louth there’s still a place called Finnegans pub, which is, I bet that’s related to my family.”

Biden, who has said he does not drink, added jokingly, “I’m the only Irishman you’ve ever met though that’s never had a drink, so I’m okay. I’m really not Irish.”

The president’s remarks came during a traditional lunch that dates back to the 1980s that started with President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill.

This year’s luncheon featured House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, as well as former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), and former Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), who now serves as U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland.

Biden and McCarthy, both of Irish descent, made numerous references to their backgrounds during their remarks. McCarthy recited an Irish blessing while Biden quoted poet Seamus Heaney.

“I, like all of you, take pride in my Irish ancestry, and as long as I can remember it’s been sort of part of my soul, how I’ve been raised,” Biden said.


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