The Irish town Joe Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather left almost 200 years ago is celebrating his presidential victory
BALLINA, Ireland — Joe Biden is somewhat removed from the Irish town his great-great-great-grandfather left almost 200 years ago, but that is not stopping Ballina from celebrating his presidential victory.
The town in County Mayo, about 145 miles (235 kilometers) northwest of Dublin, has for days been draped in the Stars and Stripes and Biden/Harris banners in anticipation, even though many businesses have had to close due to lockdown restrictions.
“Now he’ll be the President of the United States, they’re delighted, they’re absolutely delighted,” Blewitt said. “To think one of their own is one of the most powerful men in the world.”
Blewitt says the pair are in regular contact too: “He’s a really nice fella. He’s good to talk to.”
Biden, who visited Ballina in June 2016 when he was in his final few months as vice president, has pledged to visit again were he to prevail over Trump.
Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt emigrated from the town, having worked as a brick-maker and as a civil engineer helping to map Ireland. Ten of Biden’s 16 great-great grandparents were also born in Ireland.
Biden’s victory was especially sweet for Beryl McCrainey Slevin, a California native who has lived in Ballina for more than 15 years.
Her hope is that Biden will be able to reunite her homeland after a divisive four years under Trump.
She also laid out her hope that Biden will “bring back dignity” to the White House and help heal the racial problems afflicting the U.S.
“I also feel very strongly that Joe Biden is in a place now that he’s ready to do serious justice reform, police reform nationally,” she said.
Cousin Blewitt is not ruling out the possibility of a Joe Biden plaza in Ballina, akin to the one built in Moneygall to honor Barack Obama when he visited his own ancestral home in southeast Ireland.
Irish prime minister Micheal Martin was one of the first leaders to congratulate Biden on his victory, a clear sign of how much Biden’s victory means to the country.
“Joe Biden has been a true friend of this nation throughout his life and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead,” he said in a tweet. “I also look forward to welcoming him back home when the circumstances allow.”