Biden set for August visit and round of golf on Kenny's home turf
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is set to play his round of golf with US Vice-President Joe Biden in Mayo this summer.
Mr Kenny confirmed during his St Patrick's Day trip to Washington that the hugely charismatic US vice-president will be visiting the country this year.
Mr Biden is now expected to visit in August and will be stopping off in Mayo and Dublin, informed sources have told the Irish Independent.
He is understood to be bringing his grandchildren and may be here for up to a week.
Mr Biden is enormously proud of his Finnegan family roots in Co Louth, but there are also links to Co Mayo.
The US Secret Service's original codename for Mr Biden was "Celtic".
Although it is not yet clear what will be included on the itinerary, a round of golf is tipped to be on the agenda.
Mr Kenny specifically referred to playing "a little round on the golf course" with Mr Biden during his visit.
The favourites for the "little round" in Mayo, if it comes off, are Carne Golf Links in Belmullet, with its spectacular setting by the sea, and Ashford Castle in Cong, which would suit for security purposes. Westport Golf Club in the home town of junior Sports Minister Michael Ring will also be mentioned.
Mr Biden specifically rushed back from the installation of Pope Francis last month in order to host a postponed breakfast with Mr Kenny at his residence, the Naval Observatory in Washington.
The vice-president said a check of his genealogy had found he was five-eighths Irish. He joked about his mother telling him not to hold it against his father for being English.
Asking the media to interpret a recitation as humorous, he read a poem by his grandfather called "My Mother's Land A-Ruin", the first line of which went: "Oh how I hate the name of England . . ."
Mr Kenny confirmed that Mr Biden would be visiting at some point during the year.
"I am very glad to hear you say you are coming to Ireland this year. Just to say that publicly for those of you down there in the Fourth Estate: Biden is on his way."
He added: "The vice-president will come to Ireland this year and we hope that we can have a little round on the golf course if we get an opportunity."
Mr Biden displayed his quick wit at the St Patrick's Day event.
Greeting Mr Kenny and his wife Fionnuala on a crisp, sunny morning, he said: "Welcome to spring."
As the vice-president, Mr Kenny and his wife posed for photographs on a sunny but cold morning, Mr Biden joked with the press assembled outside his home.
"We never keep the press in the cold," he said.
"Only in the dark," replied Today FM political correspondent Justin McCarthy.
The quip prompted Mr Biden to turn around and respond: "Yes, the dark – good line."