"It's an example how the progress made in Ireland benefits jobs and businesses here in the United States," Obama said.
At an evening reception for St. Patrick's Day in the East Room of the White House, Kenny presented a glass bowl filled with shamrocks to the president, fulfilling an annual tradition dating back to former President Harry Truman.
Obama, feting Kenny and the leaders from Northern Ireland, reflected on the outsize influence Irish Americans will have on his second term administration.
"My new chief of staff is a McDonough. My national security adviser is a Donilon. Our new CIA director is a Brennan. My head speech writer is a Kennan," Obama said. "And Joe Biden has very kindly agreed to stay on as Irishman in chief."
Associated Press writers Nedra Pickler and Andrew Miga in Washington and Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin contributed to this report.
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