Joe Biden pays visit to ancestral hometown during trip to Ireland

United States President Joe Biden has ended his weeklong trip to Ireland with a visit to County Mayo, where his great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt was born.

He was accompanied by his son Hunter and sister Valerie. “It’s good to be back,” he told dignitaries.

The President paid a visit to the catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock at Ballina, before delivering a speech outside St Muredach’s cathedral in the evening.

Crowds with US and Irish flags lined the roads as the President’s motorcade drove to the Sanctuary, in heraldry of what felt like an emotional homecoming for yet another US President of Irish descent.

“Welcome Home Joe,” read one sign.

The visit is President Biden’s third to Ireland since 2016, and his first as president of the United States.

Biden also met with several relatives including Laurita Blewitt, a distant cousin. He also met with Father Frank O’Grady, a former US army chaplain who works at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock. Father O’Grady had nursed President Biden’s son Beau, who died of cancer in a US military hospital in 2015.

A hospice in the Mayo town of Castlebar has a plaque dedicated to Beau Biden.

US flags and Biden posters were hung up all around Ballina, the birthplace of Biden’s ancestor, and locals and well-wishers queued to take photographs in front of a mural of Biden.

PJ Hughes, a local who runs a small tuck shop, ordered hundreds of US flags three times, and they all sold out. “The buzz is unbelievable,” he said.

Harry McCafferty, a local cobbler, said Biden had charmed the nation. “He’s so friendly, he has a great way with him. And it’s great for Ballina. People who have never heard of Ballina will know of it after today.”

“I can’t wait to see him,” said Ballina local Bridget Gavin, 54. According to her, the small town had been scrubbed over and painted. “They’ve done it all up. Everyone is shocked that this is happening here – a presidential homecoming. It’ll be a day to remember.”

Umar Ali
As editor in chief, I am always on the road, searching for hidden gems, undiscovered waterfalls, enticing hikes to explore, underrated delis, and more. Crafting compelling content that captures the true essence of each place is my passion. With years of experience in travel journalism, I strive to provide unbiased and factual content based on my real-life experiences. When I'm not out exploring, you can find me delving into local markets and devouring new foods, immersing myself in the cultures and communities that make each destination unique. It might sound like a tough job, but I love it!

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