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Joe Biden’s distant cousins among Irish celebrating ‘magical’ inauguration day

Jane Dalton
·2 min read
Fifth cousins of Mr Biden, Andrea McKevitt (left) and her sister Ciara, celebrated with champagne and homemade cake (PA)
Fifth cousins of Mr Biden, Andrea McKevitt (left) and her sister Ciara, celebrated with champagne and homemade cake (PA)

Joe Biden’s ancestral home towns in Ireland celebrated his inauguration with champagne and cake while waving Irish and American flags.

The new US president, who has often spoken about his links to Ireland, traces his roots back to Co Mayo and Co Louth.

Many of his distant cousins toasted his swearing-in ceremony, and homes across both counties were decked out in the stars and stripes.

Mr Biden’s great great-grandfather James Finnegan left his home on the Cooley Peninsula, in Louth on Ireland’s east coast, for the US.

Andrea McKevitt, who is a fifth cousin of Mr Biden, watched with her family over Zoom as “cousin Joe” was sworn in and toasted the moment with champagne.

“There is a great sense of pride. It’s a magical atmosphere having one of our own in the most important office in the world,” she said.

John Finnegan, from Carlingford, a fourth cousin of Mr Biden, said: “It’s a very proud moment that he once belonged here and now he’s in the highest office in the world.

“He is a very charming, friendly and down-to-earth – calm and a smiley person. He makes you feel so welcome and doesn’t make you feel any less than him.”

In the nearby town of Dundalk, the council erected an American flag outside its offices and lit up a water feature in the American colours.

Fianna Fail councillor Emma Coffey said Mr Biden had long been admired in the county. “It’s a great day for Irish-American relations and democracy and world relations.”

In Ballina, in the west of Ireland, locals took selfies under a mural of the new president.

Mr Biden’s great, great-grandfather Patrick Blewitt left the Mayo town in 1850 to travel to America.

Publican Derek Leonard, who helped to establish the mural, said they sent a video of it to Mr Biden before the election, and he had responded to them via his Irish cousins.

“He was so chuffed. He said he would definitely be back as president next year,” Mr Leonard said. “Lo and behold he's president. He’s said on more than one occasion that he expects to be back in Ballina as president of the United States so we’re looking forward to it.”

Independent councillor Mark Duffy said: “Co Mayo had suffered from mass emigration during famine time but for one of our diaspora to go on to become US president is something we’re all very proud of.”

Additional reporting by PA

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