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Family affair as Joe Biden finds his Irish roots

By Ed Carty

Published 23/06/2016

US vice-president Joe Biden with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Amy Fox (3)
US vice-president Joe Biden with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Amy Fox (3)
US vice-president Joe Biden with baby Jamie Mangan
US vice-president Joe Biden with Maureen Conmy

US vice-president Joe Biden has paid tribute to the loyalty of his family in Ireland after visiting his ancestral home and meeting his long-lost cousins.

Mr Biden walked the streets of Ballina, Co Mayo, to see where his great-great-great grandfather lived during Ireland's famine before emigrating to the US.

The visit, part of a six-day trip to trace his roots before leaving office, ran several hours behind schedule as he shook hands and kissed some of the thousands of well-wishers on the streets.

After lunch with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and relatives from the Biden and Blewitt families, Mr Biden gave a glowing report of the reconnection with his ancestry.

"By the way, the Bidens are moving back - I didn't know I had such a good looking family here," he said. "I've enjoyed my day, my whole family... we have had a wonderful, wonderful time."

Mr Biden's great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt and great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan left Ireland in the famine.

The connection with Co Mayo has been traced back to the late 1700s.

Surrounded by US and Irish relatives and arm-in-arm with some, Mr Biden recalled his mother Jean Finnegan's words.

"She would say: 'Remember Joey, you are defined by your courage, you are redeemed by your loyalty'. This is loyalty, man," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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