There were few days of the year President Ronald Reagan looked forward to more than St. Patrick’s Day. Each year, he marked the occasion with special outfits, green ties and Irish food and drink.

Reagan may have loved St. Patrick’s Day because of his Irish heritage, but there was a deeper reason why the holiday was so special to him.

In his 1984 St. Patrick’s Day address, Reagan explained how the day was a reminder of the power of freedom and of the American Dream. 

“Like so many of the Irish before and after him, my great-grandfather, Michael Reagan, heard, in the words of a favorite song, “…a whisper of a country that lies beyond the sea, where rich and poor stand equal in the light of freedom’s day.” He and millions like him left home and family in Ireland to make their way to this country.

While they came seeking the bounty of America, they brought with them a rich Irish heritage, a strong faith in God, and a love of liberty. They came imbued with sustaining talents great enough to make them an integral part of their new home and to spark a nurturing and enduring friendship between the peoples of Ireland and America.”

Enjoy these photos of Ronald Reagan celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as you remember the freedom immigrants from Ireland and many other countries left their homelands to pursue.

Ronald Reagan arrives at a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon hosted by the Irish ambassador. “Well, I came not bearing gifts of such value, but I did bring a Waterford glass filled with completely green jellybeans,” he joked during his address to the attendees.


Reagan sports a jaunty derby and a St. Patrick’s Day pin.

Reagan celebrates St. Patrick’s Day during a surprise visit to an Irish pub in Alexandria, VA.

Reagan claps along as revelers sing a traditional Irish jig during his surprise visit to an Irish pub in Alexandria, VA.


Reagan shows off his plaid blazer in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

To get the skills you need to carry on the tradition of freedom Reagan celebrated each St. Patrick’s Day, check out one of the GLA classes coming up in a city near you.

All images courtesy Ronald Reagan Library