President Reagan in Ireland

President Reagan in Ireland US President Ronald Reagan in the company of his wife, Nancy, having a pint in O´Farrells pub, Ballyporeen, in 1984.

Echoes of the past from the Archives

Among the many events of 1984, the visit to Ireland by American president Ronald Reagan was the most controversial, and also the most entertaining in some ways.

The contrast between serious protests and the sometimes comic incidents at Ballyporeen made a strange contrast of aspects of modern Irish life.

Whether the president was in fact descended from Brian Boru was a much disputed point. But his Irish connections in more recent times were real enough; though the president was long reluctant to acknowledge them, even claiming to Ambassador Donlon in Washington that he was of English descent. But in Ireland, from the government down, others thought otherwise.

Dr Garret FitzGerald did not care for Reagan. Neither did the Irish bishops and their supposed ‘boycott’ was one of the more curious aspects of the visit.

Yet in the end the government papers suggest that Reagan’s influence on Margaret Thatcher may well have been very helpful in Irish affairs.

Even Republican presidents need the Irish vote in America.