The mayor, addressing the American Irish Historical Society on Wednesday, quipped that he lives nearby the society offices and is used to seeing inebriated people spilling out of the Manhattan building on St. Patrick's Day.
"Normally when I walk by this building there are a bunch of people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window waving," Bloomberg said. "I know, that's a stereotype of the Irish," he went on, as members of the audience began to groan. "Nevertheless," he continued, jamming his foot further into his mouth, "we Jews from around the corner think this."
The audience, which had gathered to mark the launch of a book about the history of the St. Patrick's Day parade, did not seem to think the mayor's remarks were all that funny. John Dunleavy, the chairman of the St. Patrick's Day Parade, called the remarks "outrageous and totally uncalled for," according to The New York Times.
Bloomberg initially brushed aside concerns that he had said anything offensive. "I was talking about a party that they have every year on St. Patrick's Day where they sort of -- it's traditional to hang out the window and yell and scream, and it's in good fun," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal. But when word of the gaffe went viral -- and international, even making it into papers in Ireland -- Bloomberg gave a formal apology. "I apologize. I certainly did not mean to offend anybody," he told reporters.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who self-identifies as Irish-American, said she accepted the apology. "Given the mayor's long history of support for the Irish community, his remarks last night were both surprising and inappropriate," Quinn said, according to the New York Daily News. "I am pleased to hear he has since apologized."