U.S. President Joe Biden, a proud Irish-American, took his three-day tour of Ireland to Dublin on Thursday for an address to parliament and a banquet at Dublin Castle as his focus shifted from Northern Irish peace to celebrating his heritage.
“It feels wonderful. It feels like I’m coming home,” Biden told journalists on Wednesday afternoon as he toured Carlingford Castle, near the home of one of the Irish branches of his family.
Biden will be guest of honour at a banquet at St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle on Thursday evening, an honour previously given to Queen Elizabeth II and U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
In the afternoon he will hold meetings with Ireland’s president and prime minister and become the fourth U.S. president to address a joint session of the Irish parliament after Kennedy in 1963, Ronald Reagan in 1984 and Bill Clinton in 1995.
Biden spent Wednesday morning in Belfast where he held brief talks with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and urged Northern Irish political leaders to restore their power-sharing government with the promise of significant U.S. investment.
Later he enjoyed a more light hearted trip to the home town of great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan, a shoemaker who immigrated to the United States in 1849, in Louth, halfway between Dublin and Belfast.
Biden complimented the rain-soaked residents of Dundalk town by telling them their town was beautiful. “I don’t know why the hell my ancestors left here,” he quipped.
On Friday he is to meet relatives from another side of his family, that of great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt, in the western county of Mayo, where he will also make a public address to wrap up his tour.
Biden will be accompanied for some of his Dublin engagements by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is visiting Ireland before travelling to Vietnam and Japan.