Joe Biden to Visit Ireland
Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed that Vice President Joe Biden will make his first official visit to Ireland in late June. The announcement was made at the opening night of Ireland 100, a three-week cultural and arts festival at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in May. Though Biden has made several refueling stops at Shannon Airport, where he and his staff are said to frequent the duty-free shops (the world’s first), the June trip will be his first extended tour of the country.
Kenny said at the event that the vice president will be “coming home” to Ireland. “You’ll see what your mother and grandmother said, that the céad míle fáilte really means that – one hundred thousand welcomes – so be ready,” he said. Kenny was recently re-elected as Taoiseach following a period of electoral uncertainty earlier this year in which no parties were able to come to a consensus on a new government.
Biden, who grew up in the heavily Irish American town of Scranton, PA, will travel with his family and visit his ancestral homes in counties Louth and Mayo, and meet with Enda Kenney, according to the vice president’s office. He is also scheduled to visit Ballina, Scranton’s sister city.
Speaking at the event, Biden said that “being Irish, without fear of contradiction, has shaped my entire life.”
Biden has always worn his Irish heritage and Catholic faith proudly, coming to be defined as much by them as by his policies. His great-great paternal grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Knockmore, Co. Mayo at only 18-years old, and his great-great maternal grandfather emigrated from Cooley, County Louth in 1850, genealogist Megan Smolenyak discovered researching his Irish ancestors on the occasion of his induction to the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2013. ♦