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Now Enda knows he's really arrived

WASHINGTON might not be the most sought-after location for a 'honeymoon', but for Enda Kenny it's sham-rocking.

Just seven days after becoming Taoiseach, the Mayo man was walking tall and pounding podiums in front of some of the world's most powerful people.

He has washed off "the smell of turf" and virtually turned into an instant statesman.

Even before his meeting with Barack Obama, the Taoiseach must have been struggling to keep up with his own schedule.

Governors, congressmen, business leaders and cultural ambassadors were queuing up to meet the man who was so keen to stress that the Irish gateway "is wide open and ready for business".

Our man Enda moved from handshake to handshake, room to room, hotel to hotel and meeting to meeting.

Admittedly his speeches produced more Irish cliches than an episode of The Simpsons, but this audience was happy to let him away with it.

"Tomorrow I'll meet for the first time, the man whose family, in the 1800s, moved from county Offaly to Deerfield in Ohio.





Mimic

"Yes -- there's no one as Irish as Barack Obama," said Mr Kenny in a moment of cringe when he quoted a YouTube hit from The Corrigan Brothers. And at points he even seemed to mimic the US President's "Yes We Can" with "We Will".

"We will rise and prosper and shine again. We will fix those banks, we will get our economy moving, we will restore confidence..." he said, while adding: "We will be writing our own future."

Unfortunately for Enda, it appeared that he was also writing his own scripts -- or perhaps ignoring the ones that were written for him.

After a day of powerful performances, he fell flat at a high-profile dinner for around 700 of Ireland's richest Americans.

In an unusual lapse he drifted from the official speech to tell stories of blind buskers on Grafton Street in the springtime -- a move that caused more bemusement than backslapping.

But it was a rare slip, and the guests -- one of whom had donated $5m to Irish charities -- were polite to the very end.

But while Irish charities were benefiting from the Enda's blitz, the Taoiseach was keen to stress that he was not coming with the begging bowl.

At one point yesterday Enda thanked his hosts for letting generations of Irish people "share the American dream".

Today, he was certainly living his.

kdoyle@herald.ie