Society

Trump Quotes Irish Proverb, Twitter Says It's Not Irish

| by Alex Scarr

President Donald Trump gave remarks on March 16 to commemorate St. Patrick's Day, the day celebrating Irish heritage and remembering St. Patrick, a Catholic missionary.

"We’re here today to celebrate America’s commitment to Ireland and the tremendous contributions -- and I know it well -- the Irish immigrants and their descendants have made right here in the United States and throughout the world," read a statement from the White House.  

During his speech Trump included what he called an Irish "proverb"; one he claimed to have heard for many years.

"'Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue,'" Trump said, reciting the proverb. "'But never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.'  We know that, politically speaking.  A lot of us know that, we know it well. It’s a great phrase."

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Users on Twitter were quick to point out that the proverb is not Irish. "With all due respect to the President's reputation for scrupulously checking his sources, I don't think this is an Irish proverb," said one on Twitter.

Searches for the phrase yield mixed results, but one of the most common attributions to the excerpt is from a larger poem by Albashir Adam Alhassan entitled "Remember to Forget." Alhassan wrote the poem in his home country of Nigeria in 2001, according to NBC. Alhassan identifies as Muslim.

"I'm actually surprised because I'm wondering how someone like the American president got to find a poem that I just posted on the internet," said Alhassan. "I have no idea how he found it."

There are many earlier references to the adage, including one found published as early as 1934. None of the sources found for the poem claim it to be Irish.

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Google searches for "Irish proverb" turn up the phrase, and it remains entirely possible the Trump had no idea it wasn't attributed to an Irish author when he said it. That did not stop Twitter users from creating a stir over his comments.

"This is utter bollocks Trump," wrote one user. "'Irish proverb' my a**."

"Have literally never heard this in my entire life," wrote a woman who claimed to be Irish.

"As an Irish person I can safely say I have never, ever heard this proverb."

Trump also commented about his personal connection to the Irish holiday.

"The very first St. Patrick's Day parade -- I spent a lot of time at St. Patrick’s Day parades over the years, I will tell you that -- was held in my hometown, New York City, on March 17th, 1762."

Sources: Mashable, NBC News, The White House / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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