Tuesday 24 October 2017

Former vice president Biden in tribute to carers during emotional Mayo visit

Former US vice president Joe Biden embraces Fionnuala Kenny, wife of former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who is greeted by Martina Jennings, CEO of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation, at the sod-turning for the new Mayo Roscommon Hospice Facility in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, yesterday. Photo: Keith Heneghan/Phocus
Former US vice president Joe Biden embraces Fionnuala Kenny, wife of former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who is greeted by Martina Jennings, CEO of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation, at the sod-turning for the new Mayo Roscommon Hospice Facility in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, yesterday. Photo: Keith Heneghan/Phocus

Sorcha O'Connor

Former US vice president Joe Biden chose the words of William Butler Yeats to express the value hospice care holds for those facing terminal illness, on a visit to Castlebar.

The respected politician made the visit to his ancestral homeland to turn the sod at the site of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation's new palliative care unit.

The new 14-bed unit will be built on HSE land in Knockaphunta, Castlebar, now in the ownership of the foundation.

Mr Biden told staff members: "I can't help but remember the words of William Butler Yeats in the poem of 'Lake Isle of Innisfree': I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree … And I shall find some peace there, as peace comes dropping slow. That is what you bring: peace dropping slow."

The facility will include day care and community care, as well as a 14-bed in-patient unit which will provide symptom control support, respite and end of life services.

Addressing an audience which included former Taoiseach Enda Kenny and wife Fionnuala, Mr Biden remarked how hospice care was something he has sadly had a lot of contact with, his son Beau Biden passing away just two years ago from brain cancer.

He spoke of the braveness and dignity of his son and those who battled illness as he had.

He also mentioned his Irish roots, as the great-great-grandson of a Mayo immigrant Edward Francis Blewitt, and how he and Beau had looked forward to one day exploring their heritage together.

Sadly Beau never made the trip and when the former vice president visited Ireland last year he said it had been a "bitter-sweet" time for his family. "It was a trip I had promised Beau. We planned on coming together to research our Irish roots," he said.

CEO Martina Jennings said the foundation was "humbled and honoured" to have Mr Biden and his wife Jill present yesterday, saying Beau's name would forever be associated with the hospice. She said the day marked the start of a new era for the Mayo Roscommon Hospice.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News