THE Lord Mayor Des Cahill represented Cork in the White House yesterday before jetting back just in time for the St Patrick's Day parade in the city centre today.
Cork's First Citizen believes that the Lord Mayor's trip to Washington DC could become a valuable annual event if his successors are able use it to meet potential allies and investors.
The Fine Gael city councillor became the first Lord Mayor of Cork to visit the White House, but said that the short notice meant that he was unable to take full advantage of the trip. However, he said that his experience showed that there is huge potential for Cork in future visits.
"It may end up being a tradition. If it becomes that you would be able to organise three or four meetings around it, but we weren't afforded the time to do that," he said.Like most of the 300 invitees at the President Donald Trump's reception, he only got the invite last Friday, but said that he had one big advantage while mingling with the crowd.
"There is a huge advantage of travelling with a big chain. If I $10 for everyone who wanted to take a photo with me I'd have covered the cost of the trip," he said.
He said that Mayoral chains were not common in the US, so the business leaders and politicians there were keen to meet the Irish mayors who had travelled. The Cork City chain was also crafted in 1787, the same year that the US Constitution was signed, giving Mr Cahill an easy ice-breaker when meeting with people.
While the trip came under criticism from some quarters, including some of Mr Cahill's council colleagues, he said it was worth it to have Cork represented and to try and establish a tradition.
"For us not to have gone would have been worse. This is the start of what could be an annual event, and that's where you can get a lot of value," he said.
Mr Cahill praised An Taoiseach Enda Kenny for raising the issues faced by Irish immigrants in Ireland, and for reminding people that Ireland employs more people in the US than the US employs in Ireland.
He also praised President Trump and Vice President Pence for their comments.
"They were ver complimentary of the Irish and the relationship with the Irish," he said.
Following the reception, Mr Cahill almost immediately left for Ireland, landing in Dublin this morning so that he could make it Cork in time for the parade this afternoon.