Senator Mark Daly was involved in sourcing the battle sword of Thomas F Meagher, whom was a US Army General during the American Civil War. Meagher led the Irish Brigade into the Battle of Fredericksburg on 13th December 1862.
Upon retrieval of the sword, it was used to be presented to then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the Taoiseach’s address to the Joint Session of Congress on the 30th April 2008. The Taoiseach then went on to present the sword to US Senator Ted Kennedy.
In 1963, then US President John F Kennedy during his visit to Ireland presented the flag of the same Irish Brigade led by Thomas F Meagher to the Irish people.
Chairman Neal, Congressman Walsh, Senator Kennedy, Friends
This has been a proud morning indeed here on Capitol Hill, for Ireland and for me.
As always, I feel so much at home when I join our good friends here who have helped us for so long.
Thank you so much, Ted and Richie for the welcome which has been extended to me. I have been deeply honoured by Speaker Pelosi and by the Congress of the United States today.
May I extend a word of personal thanks for all the assistance extended by everyone especially by Billy Tranghese, whose work and friendship we appreciate so much.
As I mentioned when I spoke in the Chamber, the work of the Friends for over 25 years has been unswerving, enduring and ultimately central to the peace and prosperity which we enjoy in the island of Ireland today.
The history of the Irish in America is well known to you here. An American writer once wrote some years ago: “I was Irish before I knew anything”. Many of you here will identify with the power of that statement and all it represents.
Many Irish, from North and South, played a role in the birth of this nation as the path to independence was found.
A very special journey in that chapter included the story of the Fighting 69th, who played a brave and proud role and whose brigade included many Irish names.
One such name was Thomas Francis Meagher from Waterford. I am very glas that Waterford city is represented here today. Meagher, whose portrait actually hangs in my office in Dublin, fought with the famous Regiment of the New York Militia and also fought in battles in the American Civil War. It was Meagher also who gave us our own flag, the tricolour on his return from Paris, inspired as he was by revolutionary ideas in Europe at that time.
When President John F. Kennedy, a son of Massachusetts, paid that memorable visit to Ireland in 1963, he gave the flag of the “Fighting 69th” to the Houses of the Irish Parliament. As the President said when speaking in our Dail, “they wore a proud heritage and a special courage”.
Today, I am very pleased to reciprocate this gesture by presenting to the Friends of Ireland in the Senate and the House the sword of Thomas Francis Meagher. In doing so, we express not only our warmest appreciation for all that our Friends have done for us for so many years, but we also recognise the countless stories of courage and sacrifice of many before us, and which gave us the freedom and justice which we enjoy on both sides of the Atlantic today.
I hope that this sword serves as a reminder of our shared history and of our profound gratitude to our Friends in the Senate and House. I am confident that it will be given an appropriate place in these August surroundings.