Prince William tries his hand at Irish in St Patrick’s Day video

Canada’s Trudeau and New Zealand’s Ardern join other global leaders in sending greetings

The UK’s Prince William has followed in the footsteps of his grandmother by trying his hand at speaking Irish in his St Patrick’s Day message to the Irish people.

In a message recorded as part of the Government's Global Irish programme, the Duke of Cambridge wished Ireland "beannachtaí na féile Pádraig oraibh" while his wife Kate Middleton sent well wishes in English to the Irish people.

In the video, published on Wednesday, the prince briefly joked that his wife got to say “the easy bit” before going on to thank Ireland for the warm welcome the couple received during their visit shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year.

Nearly ten years have passed since Queen Elizabeth stood in Dublin Castle in May 2011 during her historic state visit to Ireland and opened her speech with the words “a uachtaráin agus a chairde”.


This week she returned to the Irish language by signing off with “Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh go léir” in a letter sent to president Michael D Higgins.

In the message, the Queen reflected on the significance of her visit to Ireland a decade ago and highlighted the “ties of family, friendship and affection” shared between the Irish and British people which are the “foundation of our partnership”. Kate Middleton also reflected on this “friendship” and “strong relationship” in the video message published on Wednesday.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau also got in on the bilingual act, declaring his “beannachtaí na féile Pádraig” message with an impressive fluency in the Global Ireland video before paying tribute to the contribution Irish people have made to his country.

“Irish culture and heritage has long been a part of our Canadian fabric,” said Mr Trudeau, adding that Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of Canada’s founding fathers, emigrated from Ireland.

"Millions of Irish people have found a home here in Canada helping us become the diverse and inclusive country we know and love. Today is also a time to celebrate the strong and special friendship between our two countries."

In a further message in French, Mr Trudeau committed to strengthening Canada’s friendship with Ireland as the two countries continued to deal with the repercussions of Covid-19.

US president Joe Biden and New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern also sent St Patrick’s day wishes in the Global Irish video published on Wednesday, while Australian prime minister Scott Morrison added his name to the leaders brave enough to try a greeting as Gaeilge with his “céad míle fáile”.

With one third of Australians holding Irish ancestral connections, Ireland has "influenced the soul of ours and so many around the world", said Mr Morrison. "Your joy and compassion, resilience and willingness to have a laugh at the absurd and yourself is something you've passed on to all of us, especially here in Australia."

The video also featured a message from Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg who spoke of the thousand-year-old relationship between Ireland and Norway dating back to the Vikings. "I'm happy to see Ireland and Norway are increasingly joining forces in the UN and elsewhere," she said. "Thanks to the charm, toughness and luck of the Irish I am certain we will achieve great things together."

The Japanese imperial highness Princess Takamado joined the chorus of well wishes by sending greetings from Japan to Irish around the world, including those living and working in her country.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast