Last night, the White House was green in all but name as it honored Irish President Mary Robinson.

More than 380 Irish Americans were invited to dine on the South Lawn at the largest state dinner of the Clinton administration and the last before the presidential election in November. There were so many names that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy grabbed a guest list from a reporter to study as he headed to the receiving line.

"Well, you can tell which ethnic group is the swing vote in this election," cracked Christopher Matthews, Washington bureau chief of the San Francisco Examiner.

The only guest too young to vote was Chelsea Clinton, officially attending her first state dinner and wearing a silver-blue sheath -- her prom dress. Among other notables were Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Meg Ryan, Dana Delany, Nancy Kerrigan, Conan O'Brien, and plenty of Kennedys, including Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith and her son William Kennedy Smith.

Even President Robinson got confused during her toast. Nodding toward the head table, she said, "President Kennedy . . . I mean, President Clinton." She paused, embarrassed, but quickly recovered. "What's in a name?" she quipped as laughter broke out in the audience.

"I do have a sense of history coming here today," Robinson said. She, like Clinton, once shook hands with President John F. Kennedy, but "there was no photographer there to record it," she said. "But I did it. I swear I did it."

Cameras recorded every move last night, however. The two presidents moved through what looked like a lavish wedding reception on a perfect summer night. The breeze carried the scent of roses; hundreds of tiny white lights twinkled in the trees. A dozen violinists strolled among the tables, playing songs from "Cats" and "Fiddler on the Roof."

For "100 percent Irish" Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan, "it doesn't get much better than this," he said. "Because you get to honor the Irish president at the invitation of the U.S. president."

Actor Liam Neeson arrived without his very pregnant wife, actress Natasha Richardson, and flipped for another woman.

"I fell in love with Hillary today," said the Irish heartthrob. "The photographs don't do her justice."

The first lady, wearing a white lace and black chiffon St. John gown, introduced all the guests to the other first spouse, Nicholas Robinson. A rainbow of green dresses floated by -- lime green, mint green, emerald green. The receiving line was so long that even the indefatigable Clinton checked his watch after an hour.

"Welcome to the largest gathering of Irish Americans since the last Notre Dame football game," the president later joked, standing in the middle of the dance floor for his toast. This dinner, he said, was not only an acknowledgment of the deep ties between Americans and the Irish, but also an attempt to pay back Ireland for the extraordinary welcome the Clintons received during their trip last December.

Robinson's trip comes at a crucial time for the Irish president. She is increasingly spoken of as a likely successor to U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who has been jetting around the world campaigning for a second term. But the United States has made no secret of its disappointment in his leadership, and there is growing talk about Robinson as a candidate for the post.

Although never mentioning the issue directly, Clinton seemed to endorse her unofficial bid to succeed the United Nations chief. "Ireland has heeded her strong and compassionate call," he said, "and the entire world has heeded her leadership."

Despite world headlines about the peace talks in Belfast this week, there was very little public discussion of the continued conflict last night -- only the fervent wish that peace can finally be brokered.

"Every Irish American is interested in the negotiations taking place in Northern Ireland," said Sen. Kennedy.

But Belfast seemed light-years away from the huge white tent filled with candlelight and cream roses, where guests dined on seared salmon with gold potatoes, grilled lamb with Vidalia onions and spring vegetables, and endive with roasted tomatoes, goat cheese and portobello mushrooms. Neeson, who sat at the Mrs. Clinton's table, was thronged by flirting female guests asking for autographs and pictures with the actor. "I'm really embarrassed to ask," said White House staffer Susan Brophy.

After dessert of an Amaretto cookie castle and bing cherries, the guests were entertained by folk singer Mary Chapin Carpenter, who was joined onstage by her Irish counterpart Mary Black.

"Let's drink and be merry," sang Black. "All grief to refrain. For we may and might all meet here again."

Then, President Clinton surprised his guests with good news: President Robinson, he said, "brought America a little of the luck of the Irish. I'm pleased to say that while we were eating here, the standoff . . . with the Freemen ended peacefully."

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, who sat next to Clinton during dinner, said, "People here are so proud to be Irish. There's a real closeness here. You can feel it."

Half of the guests, in fact, were still talking and dancing at midnight, just as a grinning Clinton had instructed: "I urge you to come dance until the angry neighbors run us off. My experience is -- this will be quite some time." The Guest List for the State Dinner

Vice President Gore

Mary Robinson, president of Ireland, and Nicholas Robinson

Dick Spring, deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, and Kristi Spring

Frank Murray, secretary general to the government, and Maureen Murray

Padraic MacKernan, secretary general, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Caitriona MacKernan

Dermot Gallagher, ambassador of Ireland, and Maeve Gallagher

Peter Ryan, secretary general to the president

Bride Rosney, adviser to the president

Assistant Secretary John O. Burke, chief of protocol

Col. Bernard Howard, aide de camp to the president

Ronald W. Allen, CEO, Delta Air Lines, and Marcia Allen

Tony Adams, producer, and Anne Runolfsson

Kingsley Aikins, American Ireland Fund, and Claire Aikins

Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, U.S. ambassador to Portugal, and Smith W. Bagley

Mary Black, performer

Mary Boergers, senior fellow at the University of Maryland, and David Boergers

Lawrence A. Bossidy, chairman and CEO, Allied-Signal Inc., and Nancy Bossidy

Mary Boyle, president, Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Board of Commissioners, and Jack Boyle

William A. Brandt, president, Development Specialists Inc., and Joan Brandt

William J. Bratton and Cheryl Fiandaca, New York City

Carol M. Browner, administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, and Eric Draper

William M. Bulger, president, University of Massachusetts, and Mary Bulger

Stephen J. Burrows, president and CEO, Anheuser-Busch International Inc., and Barbara Burrows

Brendan T. Byrne, Carella, Byrne, Bain & Gilfillan, and Ruthi Byrne

Thomas Byrne, chairman, New Jersey State Democratic Committee, and Barbara Byrne

Hugh L. Carey, chairman of the board of advisers, Cambridge Partners LLC, and Helen Carey

Paul Carey, special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, and Christiane Amanpour, CNN

Mary Chapin Carpenter, singer, and Francis Peter Gallagher

Warren M. Christopher, secretary of state, and Marie Christopher

Joan Tighe Clayton and David Tighe Donahue, Pasadena, Calif.

Chelsea Clinton

Elizabeth J. Coleman, CEO, Maidenform Worldwide Inc., and Robert Straup

John E. Connelly, CEO, J. Edward Connelly Associates, and Audrey Connelly Wirginis

Michael Conway, Hopkins & Sutter, and Cara Conway

Rep. Jerry F. Costello (D-Ill.) and Georgia Costello

Rep. William J. Coyne (D-Pa.) and Kathy J. Cozdemba

John J. Cullinane, president, Cullinane Group Inc., and Diddy Cullinane

Dana Delany, actress, and Henry Czerny, actor

Thomas J. Dodd, U.S. ambassador to Uruguay, and Carolyn Dodd

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Jackie Clegg

Douglas H. Dority, president, United Food & Commercial Workers, and Bonita Thorne

Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.) and Susan Doyle

Joseph D. Duffey, director, U.S. Information Agency, and Anne Wexler

Jerry Dunfey, director, the Dunfey Group, and Nadine Hack

John P. Dunfey, chairman, the Dunfey Group, and Michelle Jourdak

Robort J. Dunfey, director, the Dunfey Group, and Jeanette Marston

Daniel A. Dutko, chairman, the Dutko Group, and Deborah R. Jospin, chief of staff, Corporation for National Service

Barbara Dwyer and Lauren Dwyer, Boston

Sara Ehrman and Richard Morningstar

Mark Fabiani, special associate counsel to the president, and June Fabiani

John Farrell, the Boston Globe, and Catharina Farrell

John D. Feerick, dean, Fordham University School of Law, and Jean D. Feerick

Michael L. Fitzgerald, Iowa state treasurer, and Steven F. Miller

Thomas S. Foley, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, and Heather Foley

Tom Foley, Indian Gaming Commission, and Daniel Foley

James Freiburger and Eleanor Dunfey Freiburger, Manchester, N.H.

Mary Mel French, assistant chief of protocol, Department of State, and Mortimer Zuckerman, chairman, U.S News & World Report

Mark D. Gearan, director, Peace Corps, and Mary Herlihy

Jack Germond, Baltimore Sun, and Alice Travis

Gene Joseph Gibbons, Reuter, and Lynn Gibbons

James S. Gilliland, Department of Agriculture, and Lucia Gilliland

Brooke Givot and Justin Givot, Chicago

Loretta Glucksman, Westland Association

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author, and Richard Goodwin, historian

Mary Gordon, author, and Arthur Cash

Marcia L. Hale, assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs, and Patrick Griffin

David A. Hamburg, president, Carnegie Corp. of New York, and Beatrice Hamburg

William M. Haney, president, Molten Metal Technology Inc., and Anne Haney

The Rev. Duncan Hanson, coordinator, Ecumenical Relations and Mission in Europe, Presbyterian Church

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Ruth P. Harkin, president and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corp.

Neil F. Hartigan, chairman, World Trade Center, Chicago, and Margaret Hartigan

Joe Hassett and Carol A. Melton, McLean

Margaret Heckler, former ambassador to Ireland, and Jack Pierce

Patrick Hennessy, counselor for the Embassy of Ireland, and Pauline Hennessy

John F. Henning, California Labor Federation

Kitty Higgins, assistant to the president and Cabinet secretary, and Liam Higgins

Rep. Timothy Holden (D-Pa.) and Gwen Holden

Albert R. Hunt, Wall Street Journal, and Judy Woodruff, CNN

Harold Ickes, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy and political affairs, and Laura R. Handman

Philip C. Jamison, Department of Defense, and Susan Jamison

Mickey Kantor, secretary of commerce, and Heidi H. Schulman

Joe Keefe, Nixon, Hall & Ness

Michael E. Keenan, coach, St. Louis Blues, and Nola McLennan

Dick Kelley, Hot Springs, Ark.

Peter G. Kelly and Susan Kelly, Hartford, Conn.

Peter D. Kelly, partner, Kelly & Lytton, and Laura Hartigan

Anthony M. Kennedy, U.S. Supreme Court justice, and Mary Kennedy

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Victoria Kennedy

Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Beth Kennedy

William Kennedy, novelist and director, New York State Writers' Institute, and Dana Kennedy

Rep. Barbara B. Kennelly (D-Conn.) and John M. Bailey

Donald R. Keough, chairman, Allen & Company Inc., and Mickie Keough

Nancy Kerrigan, figure skater, and Jerry Solomon, sports agent

James B. King, director, Office of Personnel Management, and Eleanor King

Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) and Rosemary King

Edwin L. Knetzger, Greenwich Capital Markets Inc., and Ginny Unger

Anthony Lake, assistant to the president for national security affairs, and Nancy MacGilvrey Soderberg

Patricia Kennedy Lawford and Sydney McKelvy

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Marcelle Leahy

Howard Long, sports commentator, and Diane Long

James M. Lyons, United States Observer, International Fund for Ireland, and Marcia Lyons

Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla) and Priscilla Mack

Jodie Mahony and Bettie Ann Mahony, El Dorado, Ark.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Clifton Maloney

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Susan J. Blumenthal, deputy assistant secretary, Health and Human Services

Christopher John Matthews, San Francisco Examiner, and Kathleen Matthews, WJLA-TV

Terence R. McAuliffe, president, American Capital Management Co., and Dorothy McAuliffe

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, director, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Jill McCaffrey

James McCann, chairman, 1-800-FLOWERS, and Marylou McCann

Cormac McCarthy, author, and Jennifer Winkley

Rep. Karen McCarthy (D-Mo.) and John M. Holland

Rosemary McCreery, UNESCO, and Martin Godfrey

Kathleen McGinty, chairwoman, Council on Environmental Quality, and Karl Hausker

Gerald S. McGowan, Lucas, McGowan, Nance & Gutierrez, and Susan Brophy, deputy assistant to the president

Mary McGrory, The Washington Post, and Edward McGrory

Frank J. McGuire, president, McGuire Group, and Donna McGuire

Rep. Paul McHale (D-Pa.) and Kathy McHale

Rep. John M. McHugh (R-N.Y.) and Katie McHugh

Stan McLelland, executive vice president, Valero Energy Corp., and Carrin M. Patman

Doyle McManus, the Los Angeles Times, and Paula McManus

Rep. John Joseph Moakley, D-Mass. and Doris Giannone

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Mary Moran

Bruce A. Morrison, chairman, Federal Housing Finance Board, and Nancy Morrison

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and Maura Moynihan

Denis P. Mulcahy, national chairman, Project Children, and Miriam Mulcahy

Philomena Murnaghan, counselor, Embassy of Ireland, and Joy Murnaghan

Thomas J. Murphy, mayor of Pittsburgh, and Shannon Murphy

William Murphy, Staten Island district attorney, and Kathleen Murphy

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sara Murray

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and Joyce Murtha

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) and Grace Neal

Liam Neeson, actor

Paul Newman, actor, and Joanne Woodward, actress

Heather Nolan, Palo Alto, Calif.

Sean Nolan, Palo Alto, Calif.

Tom Nolan, Nolan & Armstrong, and Susie Nolan

Conan O'Brien, talk-show host, and Lynn Kaplan

Edna O'Brien, author

Patrick J. O'Brien, sports commentator, and Linda O'Brien

Carol O'Cleireacain, Brookings Institution, and Seamus O'Cleireacain

Patrick J. O'Connor, O'Connor and Hannan, and Evie O'Connor

Kirk O'Donnell, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, and Kathryn O'Donnell

Niall O'Dowd, publisher, Irish Voice & Irish American magazine, and Debra McGoldrick

Brian O'Dwyer, chairman, Emerald Isle Immigration Center, and Marianna O'Dwyer

Paul O'Dwyer and Patricia O'Dwyer, New York City

Kevin M. O'Keefe, deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, and Margaret O'Keefe

John O'Leary, Pierce, Atwood, Scribner, Allen, and Patricia Cepeda

Gregory Sparks, political adviser for the deputy prime minister, and Adrian O'Neill

Christopher "Kip" O'Neill, Neill and Arthy, and Stephanie O'Neill

Rosemary O'Neill, Department of State, and Paul VanSon

Susan O'Neill and Michael McAdams, Bethesda

Tom O'Neill, McDermott, O'Neill & Associates, and Pamela McDermott

Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) and Joan Obey

Michael D. Palm and Craig D. Anderson, New York City

Leon Panetta, chief of staff to the president, and Sylvia Panetta

The Rev. Henry J. Postel, chairman, Northern Ireland Working Group, and Susan Postel

Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.) and Mary Beth Quinn

Jack Quinn, counsel to the president, and Diane Quinn

Paul Quinn, Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer & Quinn, and Denise Quinn

Thomas H. Quinn, O'Connor & Hannon, and Carlene H. Jackson

Molly Raiser, chief of protocol, and Toni Verstandig, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs

Richard W. Riley, secretary of education, and Ann Riley

Jane Robinson and Mani Ramaswami, Tucson

Tessa Robinson

Laurance S. Rockefeller and Mary Rockefeller, New York City

Phillip B. Rooney, president, WMX Technologies Inc., and Sue Rooney

Timothy J. Russert, NBC News, and Maureen Orth, Vanity Fair

Arthur F. Ryan, chairman and CEO, the Prudential Insurance Cos., and Patricia Ryan

Meg Ryan, actress

Rowland Schaefer, Claire's Stores Inc., and Sylvia Schaefer

Edwin Schlossberg and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg

James J. Sheedy, president, Public Employees Federation, and Molly Sheedy

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist, and Anne Shields

R. Sargent Shriver, the Special Olympics, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Hugh Sidey, Time Inc., and Anne Sidey

Kate Slattery, first secretary, Embassy of Ireland, and Ann Burns

Jean Kennedy Smith, U.S. ambassador to Ireland, and William K. Smith

Nancy E. Soderberg, deputy assistant to the president and staff director, National Security Council, and Lars Soderberg

William Styron, author, and Rose Styron

Peter Sutherland, director, Goldman, Sachs & Co., and Maruja Sutherland

John J. Sweeney, president, AFL-CIO, and Maureen Sweeney

Patrick A. Sweeney, minority leader, Ohio House of Representatives, and Emily Sweeney

H. Brian Thompson, chairman and CEO, LCI International, and Mary Ann Thompson

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland lieutenant governor, and David Townsend

Alexander R. Vershbow, special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs, National Security Council

Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.) and Diane Walsh Terrance Watanabe, president and CEO, Oriental Trading Co. Inc., and Victor J. Basile

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Janet Waxman

Michael Whouley, partner, Dewey Square Group, and Sally Kerans

Barrie Wigmore, Goldman, Sachs & Co., and Deedee Wigmore CAPTION: Above, President Clinton and Irish President Mary Robinson greet Meg Ryan; left, White House social secretary Ann Stock and Chelsea Clinton. CAPTION: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, top, and wife Victoria at the state dinner. Above, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and actress Meg Ryan. CAPTION: Howie Long and wife Diane at last night's state dinner.