President Joe Biden joked about his Irish ancestry to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, saying he’s surprised his Irish relatives aren’t “in jail” and that he’s “really not Irish” because he’s not an alcoholic.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
‘I’m really not Irish because I’m sober…and I don’t have any relatives in jail…’ -Joe Biden at the Friends of Ireland Luncheon pic.twitter.com/v9gI8xYylo
— Liz Churchill (@liz_churchill8) March 17, 2023
Biden, whose family emigrated from Ireland to America, made the remarks as he hosted a Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol.
“I’ve been to Ireland many times, but not to actually look up, to find my actual family members. And there are so many — and they actually weren’t in jail. There’s still a place called Finnegan’s pub … that’s related to my family. I’m the only Irishman you ever met, though, that’s never had a drink, so I’m OK. I’m really not Irish,” Biden said.
Biden spoke after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) at the event. McCarthy, who also has Irish ancestry, expressed an interest in working “together” with Biden, recounting how former President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O-Neill (D-MA) did so.
“I agree with the speaker, there’s no reason why we can’t find common ground. There’s no reason why we can’t hope to change this direction of the extremes in both parties are pushing,” Biden said.
“I think it’s important. I think it’s really important. And that’s the power of friendship. I think it’s the power of — it’s the strength of our partnership, if we work at it, and simply put, I think it’s the Irish of it,” he added.
In his remarks, Biden recounted meeting a Scranton political leader named “Paddy” as a child, noting he was a friend of his father’s.
Paddy was like “a late [Chicago] Mayor [Richard] Daley, you know, brother-in-law-on-the-payroll kind of thing,” Biden recalled.
Biden said he couldn’t understand how his grandfather, “Mr. Rectitude,” would invite “Paddy” to join his family for lunch.
“You’re wondering why I like Paddy?” Biden’s grandfather supposedly said.
“He said … ‘Let me tell you something, he’d look at you and say, ‘Ambrose, I’m going to cut your heart out.’ And you know he’d mean it,” Biden recalled. “Or ‘Ambrose, I’m going to jump off the bridge for you.’ Whatever he said, he’d do — just remember, do what you say. Do what you say.”
Biden’s comments come after he refused to take questions in a press conference with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.