In 1963, shortly before his assassination President John F. Kennedy visited his ancestral home in Ireland now three towns in Ireland, with connections to President-elect Joe Biden are about to be put on the map.
President-elect Joe Biden is fiercely proud of his Irish roots and as this Irish Catholic from Scranton, PA, heads for the White House, three towns in Ireland linked to his ancestors are set to become tourist destinations.
Just like Biden's ancestors, president John F. Kennedy's ancestors fled Ireland during the Great Famine. JFK, proud of his ancestry, visited his ancestral home of New Ross, in County Wexford, in 1963, just months before his assassination. Following his death, the town developed as a tourist attraction for those who wished to follow in the footsteps and pay homage to John F. Kennedy's Irish roots.
Now home to a boardwalk including a bronze statue of Kennedy, the Dunbrody Famine Ship and Irish Emigrant Experience ( a replica of the ship the president's family sailed on) and the JFK Arboretum, and the annual “Kennedy summer school” festival the town of New Ross enjoys thousands of visitors annually.
As a recent report in the Guardian put it New Ross enjoys a "Kennedy heritage industry" and as President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan 20 it's fair to assume that his ancestral homes around Ireland will also benefit in the coming years.
Joe Biden's Irish roots
Joe Biden referred to his own ancestry during a presidential debate with Donald Trump saying "They look down their nose on people like Irish Catholics and like me and people who don't have money." He has also made a pledge that Ireland will be one of his first state visits as President of the United States.
Biden's great-grandfather, James Finnegan, emigrated from County Louth as a child, in 1850. All eight of his great-great-grandparents on his mother’s side were born in Ireland during, the first half of the 19th century. On his father’s side, two great-grandparents were also born in Ireland. Essentially that makes him five-eighths Irish.
More recently it has emerged that Biden has strong links to a townland outside Oranmore, in Galway, named Maree.
True connection to Biden
Already Ballina, in County Mayo has a mural of the President-elect, which was visited by international TV crews in the town's Market Square. The local hospice also erected a plaque in honor of his Biden's son, Beau.
In 2016, Biden's third-cousin Laurita Blewitt, organized a gathering of his clan when the then vice president visited. Since then they've stayed in close contact.
She told the Guardian, Biden's Irishness is genuine. She said, “It’s not just something he created for the election, it’s very much part of him.”
Following Biden's election in November, hundreds gathered in Ballina to celebrate his win. The joyous crowd celebrated by blaring Biden's campaign song - "We Take Care of Our Own" by Bruce Springsteen - out of a speaker in the square
Blewitt told the New York Times that the President-elect was "presidential material".
"When he came back in 2017 to turn the sod for the hospice, we had lunch with him and his brother, and he’d no security this time, and we just talked about all sorts. He could be all day talking and telling stories. He has a few good ones. He’s a long time at it."
One thing is for sure, these towns in Mayo, Louth, and Galway will be ready for Joe Biden's state visit as President of the United States.