Trump’s favorite ‘Irish proverb’ is actually Nigerian
Trump shared the saying at the traditional White House Shamrock Ceremony, which marks Ireland’s national holiday. This year’s ceremony was attended by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
Trump reads one of his favorite Irish proverbs pic.twitter.com/KgE5ipvepw— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 16, 2017
“This is a good one, this is one I like, I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it,” the president said, teeing up the words of wisdom.
“Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you,” Trump said before adding: “We know that, politically speaking. A lot of us know.”
The immediate reaction was one of confusion, with many people noting on Twitter that they had never heard it before.
Have literally never heard this in my entire life. https://t.co/3gSBhbvdl2— Christine Bohan (@ChristineBohan) March 16, 2017
With all due respect to the president's reputation for scrupulously checking his sources, I don't think this is an Irish proverb. https://t.co/1EvGGMsE9r— The Irish For 🏌🐕 (@theirishfor) March 16, 2017
It soon became apparent that the phrase wasn’t an Irish proverb at all, but was in fact a line from a poem by Nigerian poet Albashir Adam Alhassan.
This is not an Irish proverb. It's a poem by Albashir Adam Alhassan, who is Nigerian. https://t.co/5DYxflz9v5— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) March 16, 2017
A White House spokesperson told The Hill that the proverb was “originally supplied in an email on March 8 by the State Department via [the National Security Council] as building blocks in advance of this event. These building blocks were supplied in the context of the Shamrock Ceremony and were ultimately used in the prepared remarks for the luncheon.”
TV host Jimmy Fallon later skewered the proverb, seemingly unaware that it wasn’t Irish, by making it into a Dr. Seuss-style rhyme about Trump’s travel ban.
Tonight: Trump debuts his new Irish proverb: "I do not like the judge who blocked my travel ban / I do not like him, Trump I am." pic.twitter.com/6cH5AoyDtU— Fallon Tonight (@FallonTonight) March 16, 2017
The president’s “proverb” choice wasn’t the only gaffe during the Shamrock Ceremony, as Irish leader Kenny had a slip of the tongue, saying he was invited to the White House shortly after the election of “President Bush.”