If you are proud of our traditional shamrock, turn away now – put the paper down, because what I am about to reveal is likely to shock some sensitive souls.
After all the preparation and the big hurrah of presenting a bowl of shamrock to US president Barack Obama – his pesky Secret Service only went and destroyed the shamrock as soon as the ceremony was over!
Gone, kaput, up in a cloud of smoke went the shamrock that travelled all the way over from Ireland for the now-famous meeting of Offaly minds between President Obama and Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
And the reason?? It seems that no matter how important or influential you are, you can’t give the US President a present of food or floral gifts in case, you know, it were to contain something nasty.
So as soon as the President set the Waterford Crystal vase overflowing with bright green shamrock down on the table in the Roosevelt Room of the White House following the ceremony, his Secret Service agents jumped into action and whisked it away.
According to the Secret Service, the shamrock was ‘handled pursuant to secret service policy’ – in other words, it was destroyed!
No great worries however, if the shamrock given to George W. Bush in 2007 is anything to go by, it was only worth $5, according to a list released by the US State Department of gifts given to the President by foreign visitors.
Back in 2007, Bertie Ahern gave two pressies to Bush Junior – a ‘Waterford Crystal footed bowl with scalloped border and etched words of presentation’ and that was valued at $350.
And where is it? In the Foreign Archives warehouse in Washington.
The second pressie was the ‘live shamrocks’ – valued at $5!
Well at least a pressie of ‘live shamrock’ is a hell of a lot better than 36 Uruguayan herbal tea bags given to Laura Bush by the wife of the President of Uruguay!
It is even better than the ‘assortment of various nuts and dried fruit’ that the Dalai Lama gave to Mrs Bush!