With recent reports indicating that Biden’s visit will now take place later this year, Tommy, originally from Knockbridge, and currently visiting his native county, spoke of the importance of well-known personalities such as US Vice President and former New York Governor George Pataki establishing connections with their Irish Heritage, though he jokes that Pataki was technically “an illegal immigrant.”
On Joe Biden’s visit to Ireland, which is expected to include a visit to Louth, the homeland of the Finnegan family, Smyth spoke of his and his wife Treasa’s connection to Biden.
Symth said, “Treasa is a good friend of Joe Biden’s and she finds him to be a very nice man.”
On his Louth heritage, he said he knows those connections, “I mean a lot of these people have connections and never establish them. George Pataki was another one. He was the Governor of New York State. His grandmother came from the Mill of Louth. His grandmother wasn’t supposed to go to America. The sister got cold feet, and her other sister went.”
Tommy joked, “So Pataki was actually an illegal immigrant, whether he liked it or not because the wrong passport was used to get the grandmother to America.”
The proud Louth man is looking forward to the Biden visit, while recalling the Clinton visit of 2000, one of two high points in his career: “Anytime you get the opportunity to cover something like this, that’s good. Many, many, years ago I got a great opportunity on Larry King to cover the Pope’s visit to Drogheda and you would have to say that those are two major highlights. One of the things I like to do in the media is try to highlight where I came from and you can do that when you get the opportunity.”
Tommy added that he sees Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States. “I would say if I was a betting man she would be the next president. I would put my money on it. She will be the one.”
Tommy’s prominence in the Irish American community saw him lead the St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York as Grand Marshall.
“There was only one thing wrong with the parade and that was that it ended. The longest parade ever marched into the Bronx. I would have marched to Knockbridge.”
The Gathering History Project led by Harry Lee and Jason McGee in association with the County Museum, Dundalk is creating a digital historical archive of people from Louth who have moved away but want to relive their memories of the county and their lives since they have moved on to wherever they now are in the world.
To hear Tommy recall his early life growing up in Knockbridge and the huge strides taken in the Irish community in the United States log on to the Gathering History Project at www.gatheringhistory.com.