JOE BIDEN has officially declared the start of Irish-American Heritage Month in the United States.
The US president, who himself has Irish roots which he often speaks of proudly, yesterday carried on the tradition of proclaiming the month of March to as Irish-American Heritage Month, and to celebrate Americans' ancestors who came from the Emerald Isle.
US Presidents declaring March to be a month in which Irish ancestry is celebrated has been a White House tradition since 1991, and certainly holds a special meaning for Biden, whose roots stem from County Louth and County Mayo.
In normal times, the celebratory month would coincide with Ireland's national holiday, St Patrick's Day, and would see millions take to the streets of America to mark the day with parades and parties.
The Taoiseach of Ireland would also visit the White House to present the American President with a bowl of shamrocks as a symbol of friendship between the two nations-- this will not happen this year due to the ongoing Covid crisis, but Mr Biden still marked the beginning of culturally significant month with a heartfelt speech.
He paid tribute to Irish immigrants of days gone by as he officially marked the beginning of Irish-American Heritage Month, stating that their "unyielding spirit of determination ... has helped define America’s soul and shape our success across generations.
"Driven by the same dreams that still beckon people the world over to America today, so many crossed the Atlantic with nothing but the hope in their hearts and their faith in the possibility of a better life."
He also mentioned his own ancestors, "the Blewitts from Co Mayo and the Finnegans of Co Louth", who "brought Ireland to their homes in America.
"Working hard. Raising families. Remembering always where they came from."
He went onto praise Irish immigrants to America, stating that despite their "fair share of hard times,[they]have always come out strong on the other side. "
He paid tribute to the Irish immigrants who became farmers and servants and labourers, who helped build American cities and who fought in the war of Independence "and fought in every battle since to defend America and its values", and to those who became firefighters, police officers, activists and educators who helped shape modern America.
Irish poets, writers and inventors also got a particular mention, with President Biden thanking Irish lyricists for bringing "poetry, art, music, and dance to nourish our hearts and souls."
"The fabric of modern America is woven through with the green of the Emerald Isle," President Biden said.
"This month, we celebrate the sacrifices and contributions that generations of Irish Americans have made to build a better America, and we renew the bonds of friendship that will forever tie Ireland and the United States."
Officially declaring the beginning of Irish-American Heritage Month, Mr Biden called on all Americans "to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Irish Americans to our Nation".