Biden’s Irish Roots
August 28, 2008
By Niall O’Dowd
SENATOR Joe Biden gave his most
extensive review of his roots and his Irish heritage to Irish America
magazine, our sister publication, in 1985. What follows is extracts from that
interview which I conducted.
House to go green and red
MAYO could be represented in the White House if Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is successful in his election campaign.
announcing his running-mate as Senator Joseph Biden Jnr last Saturday,
celebrations commenced in north Mayo where Obama’s right-hand man has strong
Mayo townlands of Rappa and Cooneal, outside Ballina, were home to the
Third-cousin of Senator Biden, Brendan Blewitt, from Runagry in Knockmore, explained the family connection to The Mayo News following the announcement on Saturday evening.
Blewitt emigrated from Mayo in 1835. He had a son called Edward who in turn had
a daughter called Geraldine Blewitt. Geraldine would have been Joseph Biden’s
grandmother. Geraldine settled in Pennsylvania. Looking into the family ties,
that would make myself and Joe Biden third cousins,” said Mr Blewitt.
65-year-old senator was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania to a Roman Catholic
Irish-American family and also has family ties in Derry, from where his
grandfather came. Scranton has strong associations with Mayo, as huge numbers
of Mayo emigrants settled there during the Famine. Marking the connections,
Ballina and Scranton are twinned in a ‘sister city’ programme.
Blewitts are now following up the family connections in more detail in a bid to
get a clearer picture of the overall family tree. “We are thrilled he was
chosen and we’ll certainly be watching his progress very closely!” added Mr
choosing the veteran Senator, Barack Obama will add an expert in international
relations to the Democratic ticket. As the current chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, he is familiar with foreign leaders and diplomats
around the world. As a Roman Catholic, he will appeal to an important, and
largely Irish-American, voting bloc.
politician has run twice for the presidency himself.
Announcing Senator Biden as his campaign-mate, Senator Obama said: “Senator Biden is a statesman with sound judgment who doesn’t have to hide behind bluster to keep America strong. He is what many others pretend to be.”
for US Vice President-elect?
THE American Vice President-elect could be pencilling in a visit to Mayo in his schedule for 2009.
With talk of Senator Joe Biden travelling to Ireland with President-elect Barack Obama escalating since the beginning of the pair’s joint campaign, it is now hoped that the plans will become a reality.
with Ballina twinned with Scranton, the home of Senator Biden, coupled with the
fact that the American politician has family links just outside the town in
Knockmore, Mayor Michelle Mulherin has led the charge to invite him to visit
the December meeting of Ballina Town Council last week, Mayor Mulherin proposed
a letter be written from the authority to congratulate him on his achievement and
to formally extend an invitation to the west of Ireland.
Biden is a cousin of the Blewitt family in Knockmore and I think it would be a
lovely gesture, considering our twinning relationship with Scranton, to invite
him over,” she said.
The Mayo townlands of Rappa and Cooneal, outside Ballina, were home to the Senator’s ancestors, while his third-cousin, Brendan Blewitt, lives in Runagry, Knockmore.
Mayo News has learned that the visit is increasingly likely, as Senator Biden
has recently expressed personal interest in travelling to visit his relatives
in Ireland, and the Blewitt family would be ‘thrilled’ to see him return to the
place of his ancestors.
week’s proposal came on foot of an invite to Ballina Town Council from the Mayor
of Scranton to attend the St Patrick’s Day Parade in the city.
Elected members voted that Mayor Mulherin be accompanied by Cllrs Frances McAndrew, Padraig Moore and Mark Winters.
Cllr McAndrew, who has played a leading part in the twinning process, formally thanked the Mayor of Scranton for his invitation. “I am extremely happy that this has come directly from the Mayor’s office and I think it will afford us a great opportunity to see Scranton celebrate its Irish links of which Ballina is such a vital part,” she said.