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Plants

Annual St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Gift Highlights Relationship Between Ireland and the United States and the Importance of Plant Health

The spirit of The International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) was in full force this St. Patrick’s Day when President Joe Biden was presented with a shamrock bowl by the Irish Taoiseach (Irish for “chief or leader” – pronounced “tee-shuhk”), Micheál Martin, on March 17, 2021 at the White House. The shamrock bowl was delivered to the White House earlier in the week and presented to President Biden virtually. The tradition of this annual gift from the people of Ireland started in the early 1950s when Ireland’s first Ambassador, John J. Hearne, sent a small box of shamrocks to President Harry Truman.

A Story of Plant Protection: Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Gift to President Trump

Plants can serve as a profound symbol of friendship, especially when they cross an ocean to help two nations strengthen their bonds. I witnessed this firsthand on March 9, when I visited the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C., joining Irish Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall as he received a shipment of Ireland’s iconic shamrock plants. Embassy staff later arranged those shamrocks in an elegant, engraved crystal bowl for Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to present to President Trump as a St. Patrick’s Day gift. That token of goodwill continued an annual tradition spanning 50 years.