Vice President Biden gently mocks his Irish roots and family drinking problems
Refuses to toast Mexican-US bond with water, saying grandfather would object
Vice President Joe Biden refused to toast Mexican and American friendship with water, saying he could hear his Irish grandfather shouting ‘Joey, No” he joked.
Biden, who does not drink because he says he has alcoholism in his family, then refused to use a glass to toast the Mexican American friendship at his celebration of Cinco De Mayo, the annual Mexican holiday, which will be on May 5th.
He was hosting Mexican American leaders at his residence at the Naval Observatory to toast the day.
Biden said his Irish family came over in the early 1800s but that there was often exaggeration about them. “In Irish families, there’s occasionally a little embellishment by your relatives,” Biden joked. I was told, “Your great-grandfather was 9-feet, 6 inches tall.”
Biden can trace his roots to Counties Derry, Mayo, and Louth. In fact, Biden is so well-known for his Irish heritage that his Secret Service codename is "Celtic."
The Vice President is descended from a Famine-era family called the Finnegans, who left Co. Mayo during the Great Hunger (An Gorta Mor). His great-grandmother Finnegan used to translate the letters from Ireland as she was the only one in the family who could read or write in Gaelic.
The Biden name appears to have come from a Huguenot family which has been traced to Liverpool in 1668. His father, a car salesman, insisted the name was Irish, but Biden was never able to confirm that.
Biden was born in the Irish heartland of Scranton, Pennsylvania, one of the most Irish cities in America.
There were already political genes in his DNA. “Edward F. Blewett my grandmother’s father, was the first Irish Catholic state senator,” Biden says.
“He was also the co-founder of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Scranton around 1908. There is still a plaque in existence in Scranton showing he was one of the founding members.”
Biden grew up in Scranton in “a predominantly Irish neighborhood and an overwhelmingly Irish parish. The centerpiece of life in Scranton was the church, the nuns, the priest the monsignor,” he says.
“Everybody had a sister who was a nun, everybody had a brother a priest. Vocations were a big deal, ”Biden told oursister publication irish America Magazine.
His first Irish memories are of his Aunt Gertie when he went to his grandparents’ house.
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