Irish American Susan Collins was the senator who ensured that Judge Brett Kavanaugh would be on the Supreme Court, and her controversial vote has been hailed and attacked depending whether the comments are coming from the left or right.

Here are six things to know about Senator Collins:

1. Ted Kennedy was one of her closest friends in the Senate.

Senator Edward Kennedy. Credit:

Senator Edward Kennedy. Credit:

She said they bonded over the “love for their Irish mothers." She attributes her bipartisan friendships to a shared Irish connection with so many Irish American pols.

2. She is fifth-generation Irish American on both parents’ sides.

Her mother’s name was McGuigan. Her uncle Sam was a prominent Maine judge, and the family operated a sawmill for several generations.

3. Her hometown Caribou, Maine was a popular destination for many Irish.

Caribou, Maine, in 1940. Credit: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Caribou, Maine, in 1940. Credit: Wikipedia/Public Domain

According to the last Census, nearly one-fifth of the people in Caribou trace their roots to Ireland and actively cherish their Irish history, culture, and the contributions their ancestors made to the State of Maine.

4. Her first job was picking potatoes as a teenager.

Potatoes in a field. Credit: iStock

Potatoes in a field. Credit: iStock

Collins said she appreciated the connection to Ireland the work held for her.

“I am fortunate to have grown up amid the hard work, determination, innovation, and common sense that define this great industry. To me, nothing says ‘home’ like the sight of potato blossoms stretching as far as the eye can see and the heritage they demonstrate.”

5. She suffers from spasmodic_dysphonia.

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Spasmodic dysphonia, also known as laryngeal dystonia, is a disorder in which the muscles that generate a person's voice go into periods of spasm. This results in breaks or interruptions in the voice, often every few sentences, which can make a person difficult to understand.

6. The Maine Irish Heritage Center (MIHC) honored U.S. Senator Susan Collins with the 2017 Claddagh Award.

She was given the award for her lifelong devotion to serving and improving communities throughout Maine, while always remembering and honoring her Irish roots.

Thank you to the Maine Irish Heritage Center for the 2017 Claddagh Award. As a 5th-generation Mainer, I am proud of the Irish heritage on both sides of my family. I was pleased to have my husband, mother, & brother w/ me as I received this recognition for my work serving Maine.

— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) November 17, 2017

“The Maine Irish Heritage Center is the steward of the inspiring story of our Irish ancestors making Maine a place where all are welcome, and where all work together to build something great and lasting,” said Senator Collins. “Growing up, I saw my parents live every day by the defining qualities of hard work, determination, and commitment to service. Standing tall for one’s beliefs is in our blood, while respecting the beliefs of others is in our hearts. I am honored to receive the Maine Irish Heritage Center’s 2017 Claddagh Award.”

.@SenatorCollins receives the Claddagh Award tonight from Maine Irish Heritage Center. Slainte!

— Pat Callaghan (@PatCallaghan6) November 11, 2017

During the ceremony, Senator Collins and attendees were shown recorded video messages from former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) congratulating Senator Collins on receiving this prestigious award.

Senator Collins is the 10th annual Claddagh recipient and joins ranks that include former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, who represented Maine in the United States Senate for 15 years, and former Governor Joseph Brennan, who held office from 1979 to 1987.

Read More: Overlooked hero of health care repeal fail? Maine’s Republican, Irish American Senator Susan Collins

Senator Susan Collins.MEDILL DC / FLICKR