Gov. Fallin welcomes Irish Prime Minister to Oklahoma

Gov. Fallin welcomes Irish Prime Minister to Oklahoma

On March 23, 1847, members of the Choctaw Nation raised $170 for Irish potato starvation relief, an incredible sum at the time worth in the tens of thousands of dollars today.

"Its impact was more than the lives that were saved 171 years ago".

The Choctaw Nation has a history of deprivation themselves.

"Your act of kindness will never be or will be forgotten in Ireland", Varadkar said.

"I appreciate Prime Minister Varadkar for coming to Oklahoma to thank descendants of the Choctaw Nation for collecting money to assist his forefathers in the mid-1800s during the potato starvation", said Fallin.

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During his speech, Varadkar also announced a new scholarship programme which will allow Choctaw students to study in Ireland. Among the roughly 120 people in attendance were Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall, Gov. Mary Fallin and U.S. Attorney Brian Kuester.

Thanks to Arnold @Schwarzenegger for stopping by to say hi at #SXSW. "His visit demonstrates this unique relationship between the two nations".

"We've went through our trials and tribulations and we've been able to persevere and stay strong and stay united", said Choctaw Chief Gary Batton.

"You showed compassion to a starving people who were dying", Varadkar told the tribe Monday. Nine feathers, standing 20 feet tall, form an empty bowl, symbolizing the Choctaws' generosity during the starvation. In return, Choctaw flute maker Presley Byington gifted the prime minister a flute after he played a soft, melodious song with it. Batton gave Varadkar stickball equipment and taught him how to play the centuries-old sport.

Past year a delegation of over 15 representatives, including Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton, attended a public ceremony in Midleton in Cork at which a sculpture commemorating the donation was officially unveiled.

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