JOE BIDEN’S confirmation as the 46th President of the United States was welcomed by many in Ireland, not least the countless cousins and distant relatives the President elect has back in his ancestral home of Ballina.
The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, and the Taoiseach Micheál Martin were similarly effusive, given Biden’s Irish heritage.
However, Biden’s love and appreciation for the home of his forefathers goes beyond mild appreciation.
The 77-year-old has already pledged to do everything in his power to protect the Good Friday Agreement from any potential disruption as a result of the UK’s ongoing Brexit plans.
Further proof of Biden’s love for Ireland can be found in a letter the former Vice President wrote ahead of a visit to the Emerald Isle back in 2016.
The letter sees Biden outline why Ireland means so much to him and why, as the President elect puts it, the country will be “written on my soul” for as long as he lives.
Joe Biden’s letter to Ireland can be read in full below:
“I’m leaving for a very special trip tomorrow.
“I’m going back to Ireland – the country from which my ancestors hailed, and a country whose independence the Easter Rising set in motion, 100 years ago this year. It is my first dedicated trip to this nation as Vice President – during which I’ll meet with the country’s leaders, discuss issues of trade, economic recovery, migration and refugee policy, and other national security challenges, and celebrate our shared heritage. Our shared values of tolerance. Diversity. Inclusiveness.
“And it’s a trip I’m so deeply grateful to be taking alongside my children and grandchildren…
“…Over the course of my life, I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve traveled all around the world – more than a million miles on Air Force Two alone. I’ve been honored to have held a lot of titles. But I have always been and will always be the son of Kitty Finnegan. The grandson of Geraldine Finnegan from St. Paul’s Parish in Scranton; a proud descendant of the Finnegans of Ireland’s County Louth. The great-grandson of a man named Edward Francis Blewitt, whose roots stem from Ballina, a small town in Ireland’s County Mayo – sister city to my hometown in Scranton, Pennsylvania. An engineer with a poet’s heart. Months after my mother passed away, I found an old box of his poems in my attic.
“In his poetry, my great-grandfather spoke of both continents, and how his heart and his soul drew from the old and the new. And most of all, he was proud. He was proud of his ancestors. He was proud of his blood. He was proud of his city. He was proud of his state, his country. But most of all – he was proud of his family.
“And that is America: This notion that home is where your character is etched. As Americans, we all hail from many homes. Somewhere along the line, someone in our lineage arrived on our shores, filled with hope. We are blessed to experience that simultaneous pride in where we’ve found ourselves, while never forgetting our roots.
“James Joyce wrote, ‘When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart.’
“Well, Northeast Pennsylvania will be written on my heart. But Ireland will be written on my soul. And as we join the world in celebrating everything that Ireland has become, and indeed everything that she has always been, I could not be more honored to be returning.”