Joe Biden is Celebrated as a long lost son of County Mayo. Photo / Irish4Biden, via Facebook
The Biden victory in the US presidential election has been celebrated around the world, however there are a couple of places that are especially proud of the current US President -elect.
In Ballina, Ireland local residents are celebrating the Biden campaign’s success. The town of 10000 in west Ireland claims ancestral ties to the Biden family. Edward Blewitt, Biden’s great-great-grandfather emigrated from Ballina in 1840 amid the great famine.
Some still share blood ties to the incoming president.
Joe Blewitt, local heating engineer and fourth-cousin of Biden said his family and neighbours were “absolutely delighted,” in a report for Associated Press.
“To think one of their own is one of the most powerful men in the world.”
Decorating the high street with US flags and portraits of Biden– they aren’t going to let five generations and five-thousand kilometres stand in the way of their celebration of ties to the famous son of County Mayo.
A second town of Carlingford, on the opposite coast of Ireland has also claimed Biden as a son of the city. Home of the Finnegan clan, his mother’s maiden name, County Louth is a second link to the emerald Isle.
It is a tie that Biden himself has celebrated, visiting the counties of Louth and Mayo in his role as Vice President to the Obama administration.
“I’ve been honoured to have held a lot of titles. But I have always been and will always be the son of Kitty Finnegan. The grandson of Geraldine Finnegan from St. Paul’s Parish in Scranton; a proud descendant of the Finnegans of Ireland’s County Louth,” wrote ahead of his visit to the Emerald Isle in 2016.
It seems that the affection is reciprocated.
Ireland-based Irish4Biden which lobbied expatriates in the Republic with the slogan “cast your postal vote for Our Local Joe” and ahead of the historic election, urged the diaspora of Irish-Americans to “Call a cousin. Ring a relative. Phone a friend”.
The independent Dublin-based initiative proudly claims that “10 of Joe’s 16 great great-grandparents were born in Ireland.”
However, the Irish do not have total claim to the inbound First Family’s heritage.
On another Island, in a very different corner of the world, Dr Jill Biden is being celebrated as the First Lady of the White House.
“It is as if the whole village won the American elections,” Tonino Macrì of the Gesso cultural association told the Guardian, saying they are hoping the Bidens will visit soon.
“We want to show her origins and this enchanting place. We are ready to organise a nice party.”
The town of Gesso, Sicily, the house of Jill Biden’s grandfather Gaetano Giacoppo still stands today. It is just opposite the church where her grandparents married before they left for America.
The tiny town in provincial Messina is still home to relatives of the First Lady, including Caterina Giacoppo.
“I invite her to Gesso,” says the distant cousin of Jill Biden. “I really hope she comes to visit me.”
When Caterina was a little taken aback by the news when genealogical researchers informed her of the link to the Bidens, however she was thrilled to learn of the family connections.
Macrí and other researchers from the Gesso cultural association presented Caterina with immigration records from New York’s Ellis Island, showing Gaetano Giacoppo to have arrived in the US from Gesso in 1900 to join family already in the States.
When asked what her American relatives would do in Gesso, Caterina she a plan: “we will eat together,” she says.
“I will make for her platefuls of meatballs with tomato sauce, lasagne, grilled meats and sausages of all kinds.”
The area has a number of delicacies including pasta ‘ncasciata and Cannoli pastries filled with ricotta – “one of my specialities,” says Caterina.