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Biden proclaims Irish American Heritage Month


US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden paid tribute to his Irish ancestors as he officially proclaimed this month as Irish American Heritage Month at the White House on Monday.

The tradition, which began in 1991, holds special resonance for Biden whose ancestors on both sides of his family hail from Ireland.

In his speech, he paid tribute to his ancestors whom he described as “Irish immigrants (who) arrived on our shores with an unyielding spirit of determination that has helped define America’s soul and shape our success across generations.

"Driven by the same dreams that still beckon people the world over to America today, so many crossed the Atlantic with nothing but the hope in their hearts and their faith in the possibility of a better life.

“That’s what brought the Blewitts from Co Mayo and the Finnegans of Co Louth to the United States,” he said of his parents’ forebearers.

"For years, they brought Ireland into their homes in America. Working hard. Raising families. Remembering always where they came from.

"By 1909, my grandparents Ambrose Finnegan and Geraldine Blewitt met and married in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and passed on to my mother, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, a pride and a passion that runs through the bloodstream of all Irish-Americans.

“The story of the Irish the world over is one of people who have weathered their fair share of hard times, but have always come out strong on the other side.

"From often humble beginnings, Irish Americans became the farmers, servants, miners, factory workers, and laborers who fed our nation, kept our homes, and built our industry and infrastructure.

"They became the soldiers who won American independence, died to preserve our Union, and fought in every battle since to defend America and its values.”

He paid tribute to the Irish Americans who became “the firefighters and police officers who have protected us”.

"They are the activists who organised unions to give voice and strength to America’s workers. They are the educators who taught generations of American students and the public servants who have answered the call to service in the halls of the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House.”

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He also said the US owes a debt of gratitude to “the Irish-American inventors and entrepreneurs who helped define America as the land of opportunity”.

"Irish-American writers pollinated America’s literary landscape with their love of language and storytelling, while Irish lyricism has brought poetry, art, music, and dance to nourish our hearts and souls,” he said.

He cited his visit to Dublin in 2016 when he spoke of how “our nations have always shared a deep spark — linked in memory and imagination, joined by our histories and our futures. Everything between us runs deep: literature, poetry, sadness, joy, and, most of all, resilience.

"Through every trial and tempest, we never stop dreaming.

“The fabric of modern America is woven through with the green of the Emerald Isle”, he added.

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