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Bringing it all back home


RELATIVE VALUES The Blewitt family in Ballina reading the papers after their American cousin Joe Biden won the US Presidential Election. From left: Joe, Deirdre, Brendan and Laurita. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Edwin McGreal

It may be all of 170 years ago that Edward and Mary Blewitt and their eight children left Ballina for the USA but in recent years the links between the family in the USA and in Mayo have become very close.
Blewitt’s great-great-great grandson Joe Biden is the President Elect of the United States of America and back in Ballina and Knockmore, his Irish cousins are immensely proud.
Laurita Blewitt has formed a very strong relationship with her famous cousin. He came over to Castlebar at her invitation in 2017 to turn the sod on the Mayo Roscommon Hospice building and he invited her to join him during the Democratic Primaries in Nevada last February, introducing her as ‘my Irish cousin’.
So when the election was called for Biden on Saturday night, Laurita picked up the phone and rang Joe’s brother Jimmy and the two shared a lovely chat at such a historic moment.
“It was such an emotional time. I didn’t realise it would be. I was watching the presenters on CNN and they were crying about how democracy had been restored and how everyone could breathe a sigh of relief and that was overwhelming.
“It has been a crazy few days and weeks. I still don’t get the enormity of it and how amazing it is and how close to the President Elect that I am,” Laurita told The Mayo News last night.
Laurita has become a US politics junkie, getting hardly any sleep all week but also hugely in demand from media outlets all over the world.
She has been interviewed by media in Japan, Canada, the USA and ‘virtually every radio station in the UK and Ireland’.
“I still don’t have any concept of how dramatic and draining and exhaustive it must be for the President Elect but I can assure you it is draining and exhausting for me,” she quipped.  

‘Extremely proud’
Laurita is very hopeful of a Presidential visit to Mayo and Ireland in the coming years but said right now the family are just extremely proud of their American cousin.
“It is even hard to articulate how proud I am of him. It is so much different for me because I have been with him. I’ve seen what he has done for us with the Hospice. That kindness is immeasurable. How he has helped to promote it, the video for the opening last year and coming over and turning the sod in 2017. It gives you an idea what kind of man he is. I am so proud to know him, I’m so proud of what he has achieved so far and I am so proud and excited about what he is going to achieve over the next four years as well,” she said.
Her father and aunts have enjoyed it hugely but foremost in their thoughts is Laurita’s mother, Chris, who passed away last Christmas.
“We’re missing Mum so much because she would love every part of this and all the fun but I know she will be looking down on us,” she said.