Mr. Reagan spoke off the top of his head. He graciously thanked Mr. Troy for having him for lunch. He said it was his great surprise - that his advance men set it up, and he was thankful. He talked about his father, an Irishman.The Great Communicator could tell a joke.
"When I was a little boy, my father proudly told me that the Irish built the jails in this country," he said, pausing expertly, "then proceeded to fill them."
The crowd laughed heartily.
"You have to understand that for a man in my position, I'm a little leery about ethnic jokes," he said. The crowd roared. "The only ones I can tell are Irish."
He told a story about his visit to Ireland. He went to Castle Rock, the place where St. Patrick erected the first cross in Ireland.
"A young Irish guide took me to the cemetery and showed me an ancient tombstone there," he said.
"The inscription read: 'Remember me as you pass by, for as are you are so once was I, and as I am you too will be, so be content to follow me."
As Mr. Reagan paused, the crowd eagerly awaited his follow up.
"Then I looked below the inscription," he said, "where someone scratched in these words: 'To follow you I am content, I wish I knew which way you went.'"
Thursday, March 17, 2011
St. Patrick's Day 1988
Ronald Reagan celebrated his final St. Patrick's Day as President in Alexandria, Virginia: