Kiss Me, I'm Irish!


First, a chance for you to save a few bucks:  If you're of Irish descent (or have any ties, however tenuous, with anything Irish) feel free to take advantage of a 10 percent discount on almost everything this week only at the mental_floss store. Just use the coupon code "luckoftheirish" and save on any non-bundled purchase. This offer ends on March 22 at 11:59 PM Eastern, however, so use it now! We'll wait until you come back.

When I saw the headline "Owner Named Ireland Ambassador" in the Wednesday sports section, I thought something was amiss. Then I realized that it was St. Patrick's Day. "Gotta be someone from the Boston Celtics," I thought to myself. But no, it turned out to be Dan Rooney, owner of the Super Bowl XLIII champion Pittsburgh Steelers. While he did actively endorse Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential race, that's not the reason he won the post. Rooney is the grandson of an Irish immigrant, and has worked many years to aid the country. He was a founder of the American Ireland Fund, an organization dedicated to educating young Irish men and women in an ambience of peace.

Here are a few other notable men and women who previously served as Ambassadors to Ireland:

WILLIAM WALLACE McDOWELL took on the position of envoy to Ireland in March 1934, but passed away after only 12 days on the job.

DAVID GRAY was an uncle of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt named Gray to the post in 1940, and he held it throughout America's involvement in World War II.

WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT III: In the 1950s, this grandson of a president held the office, technically called "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary."

RAYMOND R. GUEST was responsible for America's ties to Ireland in the late 1960s. He was equally well known in the equestrian world, as the owner of several winning horses and a hall-of-fame polo player.

JEAN KENNEDY SMITH: The next-to-last of the nine children of Joseph & Rose Kennedy, Jean is the sister of the late John and Robert Kennedy. She served as ambassador to Ireland during Bill Clinton's reign in the 1990s.