Irish town toasts victory as 'most famous son' Joe Biden wins election

Small Irish town of Ballina toasts victory of its ‘most famous son’ after Joe Biden wins US presidency – as his plumber cousin says 10,000 inhabitants are ‘delighted one of their own will be most powerful man in the world’

  •  Joe Biden claimed narrow victory over Trump for the US presidency on Saturday
  • His Irish cousins in Ballina, Co Mayo popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate
  • Joe Blewitt, a cousin of Biden, is hoping to make it to the inauguration next year

Despite the national lockdown, a small town northwest of Dublin which Joe Biden’s ancestors once called home is celebrating the President Elect’s victory.

Ballina – a town in County Mayo, has for days been draped in the Stars and Stripes and Biden/Harris banners in anticipation, even though many businesses have had to close due to lockdown restrictions.

Joe Blewitt, a heating and plumbing engineer and a cousin of Biden’s who has emblazoned ‘Joe Biden for the White House and Joe Blewitt for your house’ across his van, said the town of about 10,000 is ecstatic at the prospect of Joe Biden presidency.

Joe Biden’s Irish cousins pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate his narrow victory over Trump under a pop-art mural of the president-elect in Ballina, Co Mayo in the west of Ireland

Biden claimed victory after American TV networks unanimously called the election for him after he secured the state of Pennsylvania, giving him the required 270 electoral college votes

The family tree of President Elect Joe Biden shows his ancestry has deep roots in Ireland

‘Now he’ll be the President of the United States, they’re delighted, they’re absolutely delighted,’ Blewitt said.

‘To think one of their own is one of the most powerful men in the world.

‘There is great excitement in the town, I’m absolutely delighted. It will be great for Ballina and for Ireland,’ he told the Telegraph.

The Democrat recorded a historic election victory over Donald Trump, having secured a record number of votes for a presidential candidate, with almost 75 million.

The election took four days to call as a result of the large number of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.

US President Donald Trump has attempted to frustrate the process, calling for vote counting to be stopped and launching a number of lawsuits.

He has so far refused to recognise the results of the election.

Blewitt, who was invited to the White House in 2017 when Biden was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama, said he hopes to be able to make it over again for the inauguration in January.

Blewitt says the pair are in regular contact too, adding: ‘He’s a really nice fella. He’s good to talk to.’

Joe Blewitt, a heating and plumbing contractor and cousin of Joe Biden in Ballina, Ireland, emblazoned his van with the slogan backing Biden for the White House during election race

Then-US Vice President Joe Biden (C), greeting local citizens in Ballina, during a tour in the county of Mayo, Ireland, in 2016. Biden was on an official and personal visit to Ireland

Biden, who visited Ballina in June 2016 when he was in his final few months as vice president, has pledged to visit again were he to prevail over Trump.

Biden returned to Mayo in 2017, the year he stood down as vice-president, to open a cancer hospice centre in nearby Castlebar which is named in honour of his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.

Biden is also related to Rob Kearney, the Irish international rugby player.

When Ireland beat New Zealand for the first time in Chicago in November 2016, Mr Biden tweeted ‘congratulations cousin’.

On Friday night, Kearney tweeted the same message to the president-elect. 

Opinion polls showed the overwhelming majority of Irish people backed Joe Biden, who is known to be very proud of his Irish heritage, in the race for the presidency. 

He claims that he overcame a stutter that blighted his childhood by reciting Irish poetry to his bedroom mirror, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

Rugby player Rob Kearney, pictured (centre) celebrating victory over New Zealand in 2018, tweeted President Elect Joe Biden after his distant cousin won race for the White House

Joe Biden’s Irish roots

US President Elect Joe Biden has spoken about his Irish heritage on a number of occasions.   

Mr Biden can trace his Irish roots back to both the Blewitts from Co Mayo and the Finnegans from Co Louth. 

Mr Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewit emigrated from Ballina for America during the Irish famine, 170 years ago.  

Biden’s other great-great grandfather was Owen Finnegan, from the Cooley Peninsula, in Co Louth. 

The family moved to America in the late 1840s and settled in Seneca, New York 

Ten of Biden’s 16 great-great grandparents were also born in Ireland.  

Biden visited Ireland on an official visit as vice-president in 2016. 

‘I also feel very strongly that Joe Biden is in a place now that he’s ready to do serious justice reform, police reform nationally,’ she said.

Cousin Blewitt is not ruling out the possibility of a Joe Biden plaza in Ballina, akin to the one built in Moneygall to honor Barack Obama when he visited his own ancestral home in southeast Ireland.

Irish prime minister Micheal Martin was one of the first leaders to congratulate Biden on his victory, a clear sign of how much Biden’s victory means to the country.

‘Joe Biden has been a true friend of this nation throughout his life and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead,’ he said in a tweet.

‘I also look forward to welcoming him back home when the circumstances allow.’ 

Mr Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewit emigrated from the town of Ballina for America during the Irish famine 170 years ago, having worked as a brick-maker and as a civil engineer helping to map Ireland.

Ten of Biden’s 16 great-great grandparents were also born in Ireland.

A pop-art mural of Mr Biden, which overlooks the main square in the old market town, was recently created by local artists Smiler Mitchell and Leslie Lackey.

After the unveiling, Mr Biden pledged to revisit the town if he wins the election.

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