President Joe Biden will go ahead with a Saint Patrick’s Day reception and gathering in the White House after two years of no March 17 events due to Covid. The 2022 event had been in major doubt because of Ukraine and Covid.
This year's White House St. Patrick's Day event could be to show the world that the United States is not panicked by events and are ensure a sense of normality is created.
President Joe Biden, who is enormously proud of his Irish heritage, will host about 200 guests including Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Michael Martin. First Lady Jill Biden will also attend the event as well as Taoiseach Martin’s wife, Mary O'Shea.
The situation in Ukraine also led to the late call on the event but President Biden was clearly determined to go ahead with St. Patrick's Day function despite the ongoing crisis.
Biden is hugely proud of his Irish roots. The 46th President of the United States frequently quotes Seamus Heaney in his speeches and proudly celebrated his ancestral links to Ireland. Biden made a point during the first presidential debate of bringing up his roots and religion.
He said, "They look down their nose on people like Irish Catholics and like me and people who don't have money."
Biden visited Ireland in 2016 during his tenure as vice president during the Obama administration.
Ancestry documented the former vice president and proud Irish American’s emotional visit to his ancestral home. During his stay, he praised the true Irish welcome he had received and reflected on the lessons his Irish roots had afforded him.
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.
What’s clear is that his visit to Ireland, his ancestral home clearly touched the president.
In the letter below, the now President wrote in advance of his 2016 visit why returning to Ireland was so personally meaningful:
I’m leaving for a very special trip tomorrow.
I’m going back to Ireland – the country from which my ancestors hailed, and a country whose independence the Easter Rising set in motion, 100 years ago this year. It is my first dedicated trip to this nation as Vice President – during which I’ll meet with the country’s leaders, discuss issues of trade, economic recovery, migration and refugee policy, and other national security challenges, and celebrate our shared heritage. Our shared values of tolerance. Diversity. Inclusiveness.
And it’s a trip I’m so deeply grateful to be taking alongside my children and grandchildren…
…Over the course of my life, I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve traveled all around the world – more than a million miles on Air Force Two alone. I’ve been honored to have held a lot of titles. But I have always been and will always be the son of Kitty Finnegan. The grandson of Geraldine Finnegan from St. Paul’s Parish in Scranton; a proud descendant of the Finnegans of Ireland’s County Louth. The great-grandson of a man named Edward Francis Blewitt, whose roots stem from Ballina, a small town in Ireland’s County Mayo – sister city to my hometown in Scranton, Pennsylvania. An engineer with a poet’s heart. Months after my mother passed away, I found an old box of his poems in my attic.
In his poetry, my great-grandfather spoke of both continents, and how his heart and his soul drew from the old and the new. And most of all, he was proud. He was proud of his ancestors. He was proud of his blood. He was proud of his city. He was proud of his state, his country. But most of all – he was proud of his family.
And that is America: This notion that home is where your character is etched. As Americans, we all hail from many homes. Somewhere along the line, someone in our lineage arrived on our shores, filled with hope. We are blessed to experience that simultaneous pride in where we’ve found ourselves, while never forgetting our roots.
James Joyce wrote, “When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart.”
Well, Northeast Pennsylvania will be written on my heart. But Ireland will be written on my soul. And as we join the world in celebrating everything that Ireland has become, and indeed everything that she has always been, I could not be more honored to be returning.
You can see what I see right here and across social media.
I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.
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