PRESIDENT JOE Biden has penned a touching letter about his Irish roots and his continued love for the Emerald Isle.
Mr Biden, whose roots hail from Co Louth and Co Mayo, wrote the moving letter as part of the annual gala for Glucksman Ireland House – the center for Irish and Irish-American Studies at New York University – where it was read out to a virtual audience.
In it, he reflects on his Irish origins, and expresses his hope that both countries closest to his heart, the US and Ireland, will stand together in “facing the great challenges” of our time.
Among those addressed in Mr Biden’s letter are Marie Heaney, the wife of Mr Biden’s favourite Irish poet Seamus Heaney, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, as well as the students of Glucksman Ireland House.
Below is a transcript of President Joe Biden’s letter to the Glucksman Ireland House Annual Gala:
I write to you as a descendent of the Blewitts from County Mayo and the Finnegans of County Louth, of an Irish American family that imbued in me a sense of pride that spoke of both continents, a heart and soul that drew from old and new – a pride in community, faith, and above all, family.
All these years later, I write to you from a White House designated by an Irish hand, in a nation where Irish blood was spilled in revolution, for independence, and in preservation of the union. And the bridge between the two nations goes back and forth, growing wider and more necessary with every year that passes. Linked in memory and imagination and joined by our histories, we are nostalgic for the future. So it was then, so it is now.
Mrs. Heaney, it's no secret that I count myself among the millions of people around the world who find solace and purpose in your husband's words. Though I know from experience that, even years after a deep loss, even his poetry perhaps never fills his absence. My hope for you is that his memory now brings you a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye.
Taoiseach, I look forward to working together with you, as I have with your predecessors. We have much to do to address the great challenges of our time - this deadly pandemic, the economic unease and anxiety, the climate crisis, and the rise of political extremism and risk of isolationism. Let us work together so we are the nations where hope reigns with an optimism that is brave and digs deep.
And to the students of Glucksman Ireland House - I look forward to working with you as well. You are part of one of the most gifted, tolerant, and talented generations ever. As your ancestors were before you, be at once dreamers and realists, compassionate yet demanding. Embrace our interdependence and be sustained by a spirit of resilience, peace, and possibility. This is your time to write the next great chapter of two great nations and two great friends.
As you join together virtually in that very spirit, I send my heartfelt best wishes and a thousand thanks to you all.
Ireland's Taoiseach Micheál Martin also made an appearance at the gala in the form of a pre-recorded video acknowledging Glucksman Ireland House’s “vital role in promoting in the study of Irish and American history, heritage, and culture in the United States and beyond.”
He added: “Glucksman Ireland House has led the way in expanding and enriching our understanding of what it means to be Irish American, including reaching out to African Americans of Irish heritage in recognition that our community is diverse and that that diversity empowers us.”
“This year’s honorees represent the best of Ireland and the diaspora in the United States,” the Taoiseach said.