Abbott Discusses Trade Relations With Irish Prime Minister

Gov. Greg Abbott met with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Sunday morning to discuss trade and economic relations. It was Abbott's first meeting with a foreign prime minister since becoming governor.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny receives a Texas belt buckle from Gov. Greg Abbott at the Governor's Mansion on March 15, 2015.

Sporting a green Irish tie, Gov. Greg Abbott met with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Sunday morning to discuss trade and economic relations. 

Abbott gave the prime minster a Texas belt buckle, and the prime minister gave him an Irish crystal bowl. 

"We talked about ways in which we can expand our connection and ties," Abbott said after his first such meeting as governor with a foreign prime minister. "I think that working together, we can improve the economies of both Texas and Ireland. But maybe more importantly, by working closely together, we can unite with the common bond that we have shared, for now, centuries."

Abbott’s visit with Kenny was the latest chapter in Texas’ long-standing relationship with Ireland. In 1767, Ireland native Hugh O’Connor served as Spain’s governor to Texas. More than 1.1 million Texans today are of Irish decent, and Ireland and Texas trade closely. 

The Irish prime minister, also called the Taoiseach, was in Austin for the South by Southwest festival and to officially open Ireland’s first consulate in the state. Kenny was scheduled to speak at a SXSW Interactive event later in the day on Sunday. The Taoiseach is the head of government of Ireland, while the president is the formal head of state.

"I've enjoyed this engagement with the governor," Kenny said, noting that he was "taken" with the extent of participation at SXSW. "[Texas] is building a very strong and friendly business environment."