Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bid a formal farewell to Dan Rooney Wednesday after his four years as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. She presented Mr. Rooney and his wife, Patricia, with two flags to commemorate their service in Dublin _ an American flag and an official Chief of Mission flag _ at the ceremony in the Diplomatic Reception Room on the 8th floor of the State Department in Washington. It was one of Ms. Clinton's first official duties since returning to work following her recuperation from a concussion and blood clot. Her staff had already celebrated her recovery with the joke gift of a football helmet. Mr. Rooney echoed the theme as he presented her with a Steelers football.
"Thanks you so much, Dan. I am not letting anyone else even hold this,'' she said. "We're going to keep an eye on it.''
Mr. Rooney repeated his boast that he was the first ambassador to have visited all 32 of Irelnad's counties, but noted that that record paled next to the 112-nation itinerary that Ms. Clinton compiled during roughly the same period. Ms. Clinton called him "a dream ambassador,'' citing the years of work he'd devoted to U.S._Irish relations and peace in Irelnad though his work as a founding member of the American Ireland fund.
"He has performed this job with integrity and warmth and good humor,'' she said. "He doesn't give you his business card; he gives you a Steelers pin. His pockets are full of them.''
She described President Obama's May 2011 visit to Ireland as "the Super Bowl of [Mr. Rooney's] tenure.''
Mr. Rooney interupted his diplomatic duties with frequent trips back to the U.S. to attend Steelers games. Mrs. Clinton pointed out that the Steelers chairman, 80, also found time to return to be re-certified for his pilot's license.
Click here's the transcript of the parting ceremony.