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Biden's Irish cousins sad to miss event but 'very excited'

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Mayo man Joe Blewitt is a cousin of US President-elect Joe Biden

Mayo man Joe Blewitt is a cousin of US President-elect Joe Biden

Mayo man Joe Blewitt is a cousin of US President-elect Joe Biden

It's a time of great pride tinged with disappointment for President-elect Joe Biden's Mayo relatives.

Due to Covid-19 and the heightened security situation in the US, the Blewitts from Knockmore can't take up their inauguration invitations.

Like the rest of the world, Mr Biden's cousins will watch his inauguration as the 46th US president on television.

Prior to the storming of Capitol Hill by supporters of Donald Trump on January 6, the Blewitts were among the few to be invited to Washington event.

"We are disappointed, of course, but we will have our own party here at home," said Joe Blewitt.

"The kids are decorating the house and they're very excited. It will be great to see it happening."

The fact all Biden supporters will have to watch the historic event at home saddens the family.

"With all the security they have to have in place in Washington, it's an awful shame people won't be able to line the streets and wish him well.

Dedicated

"He has dedicated his life to public service, so it's obviously a huge day for him, but it's sad for his supporters they can't come out and show their support."

Since he was elected, Mr Biden has referenced his Mayo roots several times, including during his first phone call with Taoiseach Micheál Martin just days after he was declared the election winner.

Mr Biden spoke at length about his Irish connections and mentioned Mayo's win against Roscommon in the Connacht Football Championship the previous Sunday.

Just two weeks ago, he announced fellow Irish-American and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as the next US Secretary of Labour.

Praising Mr Walsh's credentials for the role, Mr Biden joked: "(He's) the son of Irish immigrants - the only downside is they aren't from Mayo, they're from Galway."

President-elect Biden is five-eighths Irish. On his paternal side, his great-great-grandfather emigrated from Knockmore, Co Mayo in the 19th Century, aged 18.

His mother, Catherine 'Kitty' Jean Finnegan's great-grandfather emigrated from the Cooley peninsula in Co Louth in 1850.

Mr Biden visited Ireland in June 2016, accompanied by both his children and grandchildren.

He spent several days with the Blewitts, who remain in regular contact with the Biden family.

"He values the Irish connection, and we certainly think the world of him," said Mr Blewitt.

The Ballina-based plumber said his family have plans to visit Washington when restrictions ease.

"We will definitely get over to see him at some stage during his term, and I really can't wait to bring the kids over. It's very exciting for them."


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