D.C. donning green

With the big Irish day now just a month away, the nation's capital is preparing for the annual crescendo of shamrock themed activities, and certainly more than might have been the case if the recent North talks had not resulted in a deal.

Last year, President Barack Obama had the White House fountains dyed green and restored a social reception to mark the 17th. There is no word yet if the water will take on an emerald hue this time, but there will be a reception again at the White House this year.

The day will start out with Taoiseach Brian Cowen bestowing President Obama with a bowl of shamrock in what is the now hardly annual ceremony. The two will then attend the annual St. Patrick's Day luncheon sponsored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill.

The night before, the American Ireland Fund will hold its annual gala and will be honoring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The evening will focus on Mrs. Clinton's commitment to Ireland and the Northern Ireland peace process starting with her work as first lady during her husband Bill's two presidential terms, Clinton will also be honored in the context of her peace efforts while Senator of New York, and her continued work as Secretary of State.

She will also have a special meeting with the economic envoy she appointed last year, Declan Kelly, and Northern Ireland leaders Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness who are both invited to Washington for the festivities.

The U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Daniel Rooney, will stop in Massachusetts after attending events in Washington.

Ambassador Rooney (78), the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will be marching in the Holyoke, Massachusetts' parade on March 21. He will also receive the John F Kennedy Award from the parade organizers. Ambassador Rooney's father, Art Rooney, received the same award 30 years ago.

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