Monday, May 23, 2011

President Obama Plants An Irish Oak

Obama Peace Tree joins Kennedy and Clinton trees at Áras an Uachtaráin...
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a ceremonial Peace Tree planting at the residence of Irish President Mary McAleese, Áras an Uachtaráin, in Phoenix Park, Dublin shortly after their arrival on Monday morning. Luck of the Irish: A driving rain from an hour earlier had stopped for the tree planting, and the sun peeked through the heavy clouds above, as the Obamas and President McAleese and her husband, Martin, walked down a large gravel driveway across the vast lawn, to a small patch of grass around 10:35 AM. (Above: The President in action, as McAleese looks on, and kids wait to ring the Peace Bell)

President Obama's young, thin tree is an Irish upright oak, which will be moved to another site in the park for a permanent planting, near the Sequioa planted by President John F. Kennedy during a visit in 1963. A tree planted by former President Bill Clinton is also nearby. (Above: The President shovels)

Three uniformed officers stood off to the side, holding trumpets, pool reported. Three young kids stood by the Peace Bell, which symbolizes the peace brought about by the Good Friday agreement. The pool was told by officials on site that the frame of the bell is made of tree trunks from Northern Ireland and Ireland, as well as a tree from Phoenix Park. A tree planted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a few feet away.

President Obama shoveled dirt onto the base of the tree while the trumpets played. The kids rang the bell.

The Obamas spent several minutes talking with the children, as the stick-thin tree waved wildly behind them in the wind. They posed for a photo and received applause from a small group of onlookers. The President did not make any comments that could be heard by the press pool. They finished at 10:43 AM.

The two Presidents walked together and chatted after the ceremony. The vast estate was formerly owned by the Guinness family, scions of stout, who sold the house to the Irish government in 1999 for $29.5 million Euros, during the real estate boom.

*AP photos