READ ALL ABOUT IT! US President Elect Joe Biden’s proud Mayo cousins Brendan Blewitt and his son Joe following the news yesterday at the Joe Biden mural in Market Square, Ballina. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Hopes are high of a Biden trip to Mayo
Edwin McGreal and Anton McNulty
Hopes are high that US President Elect Joe Biden will visit his ancestral home of Ballina during his four year term of office.
Mayo County Council are to officially invite him while his cousin Laurita Blewitt has expressed confidence in such a visit becoming a reality.
At yesterday’s (Monday) monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, Ballina councillor Annie May Reape proposed the council invite President Elect Biden to Mayo and Ballina ‘at the earliest opportunity’.
His cousin Laurita Blewitt, who was invited by Biden to his Democratic Primaries campaign in February, said ‘Ireland is in his heart’ and that it would take a lot to stop him visiting.
“I spoke to him in February about him coming over if he was elected President. Obviously he is now going to be the President of the USA. He has so many priorities. I know how much Ireland is in his heart and how closely attached to Ireland he is and I have no doubt that he will definitely come within the next four years as part of his official capacity. I couldn’t see that he wouldn’t unless something major happened in the world and he didn’t get time to do something like that but I think he would be very keen to come to Ireland,” she told The Mayo News.
“And, of course he’d have to come to Mayo! I already told him I’d be happy to take care of the trip,” she chuckled.
Ms Blewitt said the ideal place for Mr Biden to fly into would be Knock Airport, a point echoed by Ballina Cllr Mark Duffy.
“Air Force One touching down at Knock Airport, that’s the dream. I think Monsignor Horan would be a happy man if that was the case. It would be a great symbolic thing, whenever the virus subsides, for Knock Airport to get a boost like that after a difficult year,” Cllr Duffy told The Mayo News.
Members of Mayo County Council congratulated President-elect Joe Biden after his election victory over incumbent Donald Trump to become the 46th President of the United States.
The President-elect’s great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt left the north Mayo town for the United States just after the Great Famine and north Mayo councillors were quick to issue an invitation for him to return to his ‘home’.
Cllr Reape described the former Vice-President’s victory as fantastic news for Ballina and the county.
The Fianna Fáil councillor also felt that the Council should ‘exploit’ the President’s link to the county and put Ballina on the world stage.
“As well as welcoming him, this county council has to be strategic in maximising the potential benefits for our county,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for us and I’d ask for a report to be prepared for our next meeting on how we can proficiently do this. We should seek input for businesses and groups in the county who have commercial and social links with the USA.”
She was supported by her fellow north Mayo council colleagues with Cllr Jarlath Munnelly saying the council should look at how Moneygall and New Ross put themselves on the tourism map with its association with former Presidents Barack Obama and John F Kennedy.
Cllr Munnelly also commented that Ballina will be celebrating its 300th birthday in 2023 and felt that this may be an ideal time for President-elect Biden to visit the town.
Acting Chief Executive, Peter Duggan said he would be delighted to welcome President-elect Biden back to Mayo as a ‘son’ of the county in the future.