And on a St. Patrick’s Day when Washington basked under a warm spring sun, Cowen also filled the main guest slot at the Speaker’s Luncheon hosted by Nancy Pelosi and at a reception sponsored by the Irish Embassy.
But it was Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, resplendent in a midnight blue gown and a matching pave diamond set of earrings and necklace, who offered a final coda to those here who worked for many years on the Northern Ireland peace process.
“Peace may be officially established by a vote or an agreement, but it is the real life experiences of people day after day and year after year that cement it,” Clinton told a packed audience at the American Ireland Fund dinner the night before St. Patrick’s Day.
Nodding his head in assent was her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
“Peace has come once and for all to Northern Ireland,” Secretary Clinton declared after receiving the Fund’s annual award.
Cowen, meanwhile, had spent time in Chicago and California before making it to Washington. His ubiquitous theme: there are flexible workers looking for employment back in Ireland.
Cowen clearly has forged a genuine bond with President Obama as the two men spent time comparing economic woes their own domestic political difficulties during a private bilateral in the Oval Office.
“Certainly, in Ireland’s context, the resurgent U.S. economy will be a strong indicator of our return to prosperity,” Cowen told the president as the two men sat before the cameras with a strong early spring sun shinning through the floor to ceiling windows.
“Will you be going to Ireland, Mr. President?” this reporter asked on the Echo’s behalf.
“I would love to be going to Ireland,” President Obama replied with a full smile.
Having the Healthcare reform vote looming, just about anywhere might have been appealing to the man.
“We picked a quiet week to visit,” noted the Taoiseach dryly.
Also in Washington, North ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness were recognized at all the various events for finishing the work on policing and justice.
At the start of the day, Vice President Joseph Biden had the Taoiseach and Mrs. Mary Cowen, along with some of the who’s who in Irish American Washington, over for a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the vice presidential home on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.
Biden, an enthusiastic endorser of all things Irish, paused in the festivities to recognize the widow and daughter of the late Edward Kennedy in attendance.
“It’s kind of strange to be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day without the patron saint of all of us,” he said.
The tribute to Kennedy was echoed by the president that evening at the White House reception attended by a number of family members including his widow, Vicki.
Sadness of Kennedy’s absence part, after a decade of efforts to end sectarian strife in a corner of an island across the Atlantic, 2010 proved to be the St. Patrick’s Day where attendees could truly celebrate achievement and heritage while hoping for an economic blossoming to match the daffodil and crocus clusters that added bursts of color amid Washington’s still winterized, brown grass.