Joe Biden has said he is “really not Irish” as he has “never had a drink” – and joked that his relatives in Ireland “actually weren’t in jail”.
The US president, whose family moved from Ireland to America in the mid-1800s, had been marking St Patrick’s Day at the White House with guests including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and One Direction singer Niall Horan, who performed at the event.
The 80-year-old told the crowd: “When I went over to Ireland, It was a great experience. I’ve been to Ireland many times, but not to actually look up – to find my actual family members.
“And there are so many – and they actually weren’t in jail.”
Mr Biden said he spent six days in Ireland and met some of his relatives there.
Reminiscing about his stay, he added: “There’s still a place called Finnegan’s pub… that’s related to my family.
“I’m the only Irishman you ever met, though, that’s never had a drink, so I’m okay. I’m really not Irish.”
The jokes did not end there as Mr Biden singled out former Irish rugby union player Rob Kearney – his distant cousin – and said, “we all know who we’re rooting for in the Grand Slam” – ahead of Ireland’s clash with England on Saturday.
He also told Horan he could “come back anytime” after praising his performance.
Mr Biden also appeared in an Instagram video with the music star wishing everyone a “Happy St Patrick’s Day”.
The event on Friday was the first St Patrick’s Day celebrations at the White House since the COVID pandemic.
The White House fountain was streaming with green-dyed water for the occasion, which comes ahead of Mr Biden’s much-anticipated trip to Northern Ireland on 25 April.
During the St Patrick’s day address, Mr Biden also said he “strongly supports” the Windsor Framework post-Brexit arrangement and spoke about the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
He was also presented with a bowl of shamrocks as part of the ceremony, which was attended by the leaders of Northern Ireland’s five main parties.