Miriam Lord: Biden Gives TDs And Senators Butter And Delivers Extra Cheese (2023)

Joe Biden's big day in Dublin was a blast.

As the President of the United States emphasized several times during his address to the Common Houses of the Oireachtas to a packed Dáil chamber: "This is no exaggeration."

Not even a little?

Whether he was trying to convince himself or a more difficult local audience is debatable.

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Not that it mattered.

He was so happy to be here that he was hailed by the highest of the land as Erin's precious returning son. His happiness and enthusiasm were infectious because he was so obviously sincere.

It could have been a disappointing day, lost due to a schmaltz crash and front leg traction. Instead, it turned into a wildly entertaining, often hilarious, occasionally poignant and heartbreaking homecoming for a man who loves being Irish.

With extra cheese.

The President went from a few minor verbal gaffes the day before to a series of flashy gaffes on Thursday - first Áras an Uachtaráin, then Farmleigh House, followed by Leinster House and ending in the gilded splendor of St Patrick's Hall in Dublin Castle.

Your show started late for some unexplained reason. We like to think he stayed for breakfast at the Conrad Hotel after seeing the menu.

"What would you like to eat, Mr. President?"

"What are you thinking? The Full Irish, of course.

It may have been too far hence the delay in arrival.

The Defense Forces band was waiting in the courtyard of the Áras. President Michael D. Higgins was waiting under the gallery. Tánaiste Micheál Martin was there too, pinned to the cobblestones by the OPW because his feet haven't touched the ground since he won a Carlingford baseball cap from the Potus and were photographed together getting drunk in a bar in Dundalk.

As soon as the presidential motorcade came into view, the brass and plectrum band broke into an upbeat version of Counting Cars, or at least they should have. It's hard to take Joe's words about climate change seriously when he's piloting the national fleet from an endangered tropical island.

The sun came out. The band played really well. The motorcade stopped a short distance from the main entrance, the doors of several SUVs opened and a crowd of US politicians, advisers and diplomats – led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Ambassador Claire Cronin – crowded the road.

The honor guard inspection had to wait until the President of the USA was invited by the President of Ireland to sign the guestbook. It's a big, heavy tome and has been on the go for many years. Not many blank pages remain.

Miriam Lord: Biden Gives TDs And Senators Butter And Delivers Extra Cheese (5)

President Biden sat at the small table designed for the late Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain when she delivered the honors during her historic visit in 2011. (Probably just as well nobody told Joe.)

He took the Mont Blanc Ritual and started writing. And write. And write.

Micheal D and his wife Sabina patiently waited for it to finish. But he didn't. Michael D leaned over to see what she was writing and then whispered approvingly to Sabina.

It was a bit Yeats.

The two presidents walked out to the national anthems, and then President Biden inspected the honor guard, shook hands with an extremely happy Micheal Martin, and inspected Charlie McConalogue.

Miriam Lord: Biden Gives TDs And Senators Butter And Delivers Extra Cheese (6)

And so, after a proper rest period — both presidents are in double digits in dog years — they left so Joe could plant an oak tree in the lot next to the trees planted by Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama, but no simultaneous time.

"Weave! Weave!"

Misneach the First Cub announced his presence behind a fence. Joe tried to persuade him, but the dog refused. He probably saw Micheal D walking with a long shepherd's crook in his hand and decided to stay put.

The first Whippet, Luna, appeared before the VIPs arrived. And Brod the First Dog was inside resting. So only one Black and Tan showed up on the day.

The President rang the bell four times - for Ireland, America, his Irish ancestors and for peace.

Miriam Lord: Biden Gives TDs And Senators Butter And Delivers Extra Cheese (7)

He then spoke at length to the media about how happy he was to be in Ireland and how his family had emigrated from these shores. Micheal D tried twice to transfer him to Áras.

He should have used the shepherd's crook.

They were like a house on fire.

"It's great and I learned a lot hanging out with the president," said Joe. There were hugs and belly punches until, finally, the Potus left for Farmleigh House down the road and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. There were no big hugs or belly punches.

President Biden was almost run over by a flying sliotar while watching a camogie demonstration. In the White House pool transcript released after the event, the game was described as similar to lacrosse.

And so at Leinster House, which was seething with excitement.

All political correspondents were locked in the press gallery.

It had nothing to do with drinking. The Secret Service wouldn't let the hacks get away while their boss was around.

There was a moment of great drama before the start of the session when one of the Secret Service's bloodhounds took a large poop in the public gallery. "The size of an elephant," said an eyewitness.

Visitors to the newly cleaned and renovated gallery included broadcaster Ryan Tubridy and Joe Brolly. Edda Kenny was holding the field and hitting the back like a man who might be trying to run to Áras. Bertie Ahern was there with Gerry Adams, both of them munching on wasp or maybe candy.

Former President Mary McAleese was also in attendance.

Marie Heaney, wife of Biden's favorite poet Seamus Heaney, was in the distinguished visitors' gallery. She was there at his request and seemed very emotional as the president paid a heartfelt tribute to her husband.

Miriam Lord: Biden Gives TDs And Senators Butter And Delivers Extra Cheese (8)

Ceann Comhairle presided over the short session with eloquence and lightness. His Seanad counterpart, Gerry Buttimer, was equally eloquent in thanking the president for supporting marriage equality before mentioning his love for her husband Conchobar.

Sinn Féin's Chris Andrews wore the Palestine jersey, filling in a bit for the absent crowd before the Profit TDs who decided to boycott the event.

Miriam Lord: Biden Gives TDs And Senators Butter And Delivers Extra Cheese (9)

Labor Senator Rebecca Moynihan was there with her new baby, Margot, who was chosen to be mentioned by both the President and Ceann Comhairle. A few minutes after his speech, having escaped the clutches of enraged congressmen and former Senator Donie Cassidy, who barricaded the double doors so he could receive a handshake, Joe stood at the bottom of the main stairs with Margot in his arms and the photographers At your feet.

His speech was great, if a little meandering in the middle. TDs and senators understood why this was the quintessential butter and hard to resist.

Ceann Comhairle dropped a phrase from Danny Boy in his speech. The President managed to get lyrical about Irish poets and Ireland in a speech that hit all the expected marks and more.

It was irresistibly corny in places. In the end, there were face-to-face selfie wars between TDs and senators in the hallways.

"Well, Mom, you said yes," was Joe's first sentence.

"As the proud son of Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, you knew I was coming... It's so good to be back in Ireland," he said, as some old cynics sighed.

“If you'll excuse the poor attempt at Irish: Tá mé sa bhaile. I am at home. I'm at home."

It was a wonderful day.

Ceann Comhairle got it right when he said, "President Biden, today you are among friends, because you are one of us."

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