Biden’s ancestral Irish hometown prepares for president’s visit
The picturesque town of Ballina on the banks of the River Moy in northwest Ireland hums with activity ahead of a visit by its celebrated descendant Joe Biden this week.
The US president is due to arrive in the north County Mayo town Friday to address thousands in the place from which his family hailed before emigrating to Pennsylvania in the 19th century.
It will be one of the last stops on a tour of Ireland and Northern Ireland taking in Belfast, Dublin and other locations from the proudly Irish-American president’s family history.
Biden’s relatives still remain in the area and Joe Blewitt, the president’s third cousin, has been juggling requests from the international press while doing his job as a plumber.
“It’s emotional, it’s a very proud day for our family and for Ireland,” Blewitt, 43, told AFP of the upcoming trip. “Ballina’s very special to him.”
Biden invited the Blewitt family to his inauguration, which they were unable to make because of the Covid pandemic. But they were in attendance last month at St Patrick’s Day celebrations at the White House.
“It’s very special, of course, and very hard to describe it, to know the president of the United States,” Blewitt added.
“He’s just like ourselves. He has a sense of power off him but he’s just an ordinary fella.