US President Biden hints at a return to Ballina
US President, Joe Biden has indicated he wants to make a state visit to Ireland, on a trip that would include tips to both Ballina, Co. Mayo and Carlingford, Co. Louth, to meet with his relatives in both counties. According to the Daily Mirror, discussions have already taken place between officials on either side of the Atlantic, with a view to the President spending three to four days in the country.
The news is of course very welcome as Ballina prepares to celebrate its tercentenary in 2023, when a Presidential visit would represent a very welcome addition to the year-long calendar of events.
President Biden previously visited Ballina in 2016, where he spent time meeting and greeting the people of the town, before dining with his relatives, the Blewitt family, in the Heffernan’s on Market Square. Since then, a firm family friendship has developed between the Blewitts and the Bidens.
In 2020, to coincide with the Presidential election, Ballina Community Cleanup Group created a large-scale mural of Biden, and placed it near his ancestral home on Garden St, from where his great-great-great-grandfather, Edward Blewitt (1795-1872) departed for Scranton, Philadelphia at the height of what is known as the Irish Famine in 1851.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin is hoping to meet President Biden twice in the coming months, firstly in late autumn at a meeting of the UN Security Council of which Ireland is now a member, and again in March at the White House for St Patrick’s Day.