John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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My Remarks At the Flax Trust

Posted on November 20, 2012


I was lucky enough to be honored at the Flax Trust breakfast this morning, along with CBS anchorperson Norah O'Donnell. Here are my remarks at the breakfast:

It is rare that a former staff member gets an introduction like that from a former member.

And I think it says more about the member than it does about me.

Jim Walsh has been a mentor and a friend for more than 15 years.

He would let me tag along on several of his trips to Ireland, when Jim was the Chairman of Friends of Ireland Caucus on the Hill.

Jim Walsh is a problem solver.

He saw that there was a problem with persistent unemployment in the Border counties and Northern Ireland and that problem was making peace more difficult to achieve.

So he created the Walsh visa program.

And it helped to solve the problem.

I wish we had more problem-solvers in Congress today. Because, God knows, we have a lot of problems.

So, thank you Jim for your friendship and your leadership.

It always a wonderful thing to wake up and have breakfast with Norah O’Donnell.

It usually happens with me when I turn on the TV and watch her new show on CBS, which by the way, is fantastic.

I am a Notre Dame football fan, and I am very pleased the Fighting Irish are once again atop the college football polls.

I mention Notre Dame, because it reminds me of Ireland, and not just because they are the fighting Irish.

I am a Notre Dame football fan even though I didn’t go to Notre Dame.

And I am fan of Ireland, even though I was not born in Ireland. My parents weren’t born in Ireland. My grandparents weren’t born in Ireland.

But my great-grandparents were. And they married other great-grandparents, and the Irish Catholics stuck together on Chicago’s South Side.

Irish blood runs thick in my bones.

I guess that is one reason why I love the country so.

Ireland is an underdog. It always has been. And I suppose that is another reason.

When you are Irish or of Irish-descent, you learn to expect that hardship is just around the corner. And if it never comes, so much the better.

When I first went to Ireland in 1985, as a student studying Irish history, hardship wasn’t so hard to find.

Those were the years before the Celtic Tiger.

The Tiger has come and went, and now Ireland is once again facing hardship.

I have been impressed by how the Irish have handled these latest in troubles.

Straight-forward. Problem-solving. No-nonsense.

Kind of like Jim Walsh.

And kind of like the Flax Trust.

The Flax Trust does the important work of knitting communities together by solving problems and taking care of people.

And so I am quite thrilled to be here today, and I thank you for this great honor.