Trump’s St. Patrick’s Day “proverb” might not be Irish but wasn’t by a Nigerian poet either

“Are those really Irish greens?”
“Are those really Irish greens?”
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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The world has learned to take things US president Donald Trump says with a pinch of salt. In celebration of a day more synonymous with pints of beers and shamrocks, president Trump caused some confusion quoting words from what he appeared to believe was an Irish proverb in a St. Patrick’s Day reception with Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister.

“As we stand together with our Irish friends, I’m reminded of that proverb–and this is a good one, this is one I like. I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it,” Trump said. ”Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you,” Trump said, uncharacteristically reading from a script.

Like many other outlets, Quartz reported the “Irish proverb” was part of a poem titled “Remember to forget” authored by Albashir Adam Alhassan, a Nigerian poet. Alhassan had posted the poem on the site, Poemhunter. Speaking with media, including CNN, Alhassan said he posted the poem online “over 10 years ago.”

But further checks show the poem, complete with lines Trump quoted, has actually been around for decades, appearing in an April 1936 report from The International Stereotypers & Electrotypers’ Union Journal without attribution. The author of the poem remains unknown.

Proverb debacle aside, president Trump eagerly pledged to be ”an ever-faithful partner and an always loyal friend” to the Irish.

But the US president’s pacifist rhetoric did not stop prime minister Kenny from calling out Trump’s tough immigration policies which he had also criticized during the presidential campaign. “There are millions out there who want to play their part for America—if you like, who want to make America great,”Kenny said, referring to immigrants (including Irish) now facing uncertain times in Trump’s America. “All they want is the opportunity to be free.”