Friday is St. Patrick’s day, the national day of celebration for the Republic of Ireland. Ethnic Irish people across the globe celebrate this holiday with green costumes and copious amounts of alcohol. President Donald Trump took to the podium yesterday with Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny to celebrate the holiday and reaffirm the strong ties between Ireland and the United States.
Trump issued an official statement, saying:
As we stand together with our Irish friends, i’m reminded of an Irish proverb – and this is a good one, this is one I like, I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it. Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.
But there was a small problem with Trump’s “Irish proverb”: It wasn’t Irish, and it wasn’t a proverb. Irish Twitter quickly caught on, with people claiming to have never heard this “proverb” before:
Have literally never heard this in my entire life. https://t.co/3gSBhbvdl2
— Christine Bohan (@ChristineBohan) March 16, 2017
One of his staff is definitely trolling him now, and it's brilliant
Trump: 'quick, find me an Irish proverb!'
Staffer: 'Sure Mr President.. https://t.co/cCuOyh1afV
— Vanessa Furey (@VanessaFurey) March 16, 2017
With all due respect to the president's reputation for scrupulously checking his sources, I don't think this is an Irish proverb. https://t.co/1EvGGMsE9r
— The Irish (Deireadh) Fómhair (@theirishfor) March 16, 2017
Some investigation ensued, and it turned out that this “Irish proverb” wasn’t Irish at all. It’s a part of a poem called “Remember to Forget” written by Nigerian poet Albashir Adam Alhassan.
Twitter proceeded to implode as the news of this bizarre turn of events began to circulate.
I've got an Irish proverb for you Trump: An empty sack does not stand. https://t.co/GWfwdviBHv
— John Maguire (@JMaguireCritic) March 16, 2017
This is not an Irish proverb. It's a poem by Albashir Adam Alhassan, who is Nigerian. https://t.co/5DYxflz9v5
— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) March 16, 2017
"Irish Proverb" me hole. https://t.co/dWLregquCs
— Mark Little (@marklittlenews) March 16, 2017
After initial rumors that Trump was trolled by one of his speech writers, it turns out that the poem is mentioned on various message boards and blogs as an Irish proverb. Trump’s speechwriters clearly needed a quick fix and chose this quote without doing any proper research.
It’s embarrassing when the leader of our country can’t even get basic cultural references right. It also doesn’t do well for diplomacy. Luckily Ireland probably won’t get offended by this mishap, in fact they’ll probably laugh. But other states and their leaders might perceive this as deeply offensive.
The Trump administration would do well to start conducting proper research before they do anything. The proverb “better late than never” springs to mind.
Watch Trump’s embarrassing speech below:
Trump reads one of his favorite Irish proverbs pic.twitter.com/KgE5ipvepw
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 16, 2017