Irish American former Vice President Joe Biden in Co. Mayo on his first trip to Ireland in June 2016. RollingNews.ie

Joe Biden’s Irish heritage brings him on another visit to his Irish cousins

The Irish cousins of former Vice President Joe Biden have called in a family favor this week to bring the Irish American politician back to his ancestral home of Mayo for a sod-turning ceremony. Biden, who has Irish roots in Ballina, Co. Mayo, and in Co. Louth, will preside over the official ground-breaking ceremony of the new Mayo Roscommon Hospice unit where one of his Irish cousins works.

The former Vice President had already promised his cousin Laurita Blewitt that he would lend support to the hospice when the pair met for the last time in January 2017 and true to his word, Biden is returning to his ancestral home for the second time in just over a year to visit the beginnings of the construction of the unit.

“He said he would like to help raise funds for Mayo/Roscommon Hospice,” Blewitt told the Mayo News back in January, after visiting Washington D.C. to watch her American cousin receive the Medal of Freedom in a surprise ceremony watched my family, friends, and staffers.

“His mother died of cancer and used palliative care services, and his son Beau died from brain cancer in 2015,” she explained.

Read more: Joe Biden shares why coming home to Ireland meant so much to him

Joe Biden in Mayo on his previous Irish trip. Image: RollingNews.ie.

Joe Biden in Mayo on his previous Irish trip. Image: RollingNews.ie.

Biden previously visited Ireland in his official capacity as US Vice President in June 2016 for a five-day trip accompanied with his children and grandchildren to meet with Irish leaders and reconnect with his Irish ancestry.

The Irish American politician is fifth-eighths Irish with connections on both his mother and father’s side. He has often spoken with pride of his strong Irish roots and how much stock he has held over the year by his Irish values. Despite several stopovers in Shannon airport and a long-unused open invitation to the country, however, it wasn’t until last year that Biden eventually managed to make the trip.

On the paternal side, Biden’s great-great grandfather emigrated from Knockmore, Co Mayo in the 19th Century at just 18 years of age while on the maternal side, his mother Catherine ‘Jean’ Biden (nee Finnegan) and the Finnegan connection were traced back to Biden’s great-great grandfather who emigrated from the Cooley peninsula in Louth in 1850.

While his mother’s entire family tree traces to Ireland with ancestors named Arthurs, Blewitt, Boyle, Roche, Scanlon, and Stanton accompanying her Finnegan kin, just one-eighth comes from Biden’s father’s side, which contributed the Hanafee name.

Joe Biden watching the Irish soccer team with former Taoiseach Enda Kenny on his first trip to Ireland. Image: RollingNews.ie

Joe Biden watching the Irish soccer team with former Taoiseach Enda Kenny on his first trip to Ireland. Image: RollingNews.ie

Biden’s first visit to Ireland was chronicled by Ancestry.com who followed the then-Vice President as he explored his family history on what he has described on an extremely meaningful, personal journey.

“I’ve been a lot of places,” Biden wrote.

“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 sod-turning ceremony will take place next Tuesday, September 12, at the site of the new hospice unit at Knockaphunta, off Westport Road, Castlebar.

Read more: Joe Biden's visit cost Ireland $26,000