According to the Irish Family History Centre, Biden “is among the most ‘Irish’ of all US Presidents.” Ten of his 16 great-great-grandparents were from the Emerald Isle.
President Joe Biden celebrated the close ties between the United States and Ireland at an evening banquet at Dublin Castle on Thursday. As he made an historic address to the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament), the US president said he was "home" and promised a future of unlimited shared possibilities between Ireland and the US.
"This is the United States of America and Ireland - there's nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together, and we've got to believe that, we've got to know that because that's the history of both our countries," said Biden.
"This is about defending the values handed down to us by our ancestors, keeping the flame of freedom we've inherited, the beacon that's gonna guide our children, our grandchildren. There's a struggle we're fit to fight together."
Biden arrived in the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday, a day after he landed in Northern Ireland. Crowds lined five-deep and waited for eight hours to catch a glimpse of Biden in County Louth, where his mother's family is from. In the town of Carlingford, the Democratic president toured a castle, gazing out over the sea where his ancestors sailed toward America.
Biden opened the trip earlier this week in Belfast, where he marked the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that ended years of sectarian violence. The US-brokered deal brought peace to a region where 'the Troubles' left some 3,600 people dead in bombings and other attacks.
President Biden went to Dublin Castle for his final engagement of the day, which was a dinner in his honour.
Host of the event Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar, said that both the US and Ireland have "a similar past and philosophy", one where they "are joined by bonds of kinship as well as of friendship".
Earlier Thursday, Biden met Varadkar and praised the nation for its humanitarian work welcoming Ukrainian refugees. Ireland has hosted nearly 80,000 refugees from Ukraine following Russia's invasion, and it has been staunchly supportive of US-led efforts on the war. Biden said he was impressed by Ireland's commitment.
“I think our values are the same,” Biden told Varadkar. “And I think our concerns are the same. So I’m really looking forward to continuing to work with you.”
Biden also met Irish President Michael D. Higgins at his Dublin residence. The two octogenarian leaders clasped hands and laughed as they walked inside along a red carpet. Biden signed the guest book with a literary message for Ireland’s poet-president: “As the Irish saying goes, your feet will bring you where your heart is. It’s an honour to return.”
Biden ends his visit to Ireland on Friday. He'll visit a Catholic basilica in the town of Knock, County Mayo and will conclude his visit with a public address in the town of Ballina where his great great great grandfather Edward Blewitt emigrated from Ireland over 140 years ago.