Vice-president Joe Biden returns to the United States

Vice-president Joe Biden returns to the United States

Vice-president Joe Biden who began his visit here on Tuesday, returns to the United States later today after lunch with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Earlier he spoke of the contribution emigrants made to the development of his country when he was made an honorary free man of Louth on Saturday.

“The reason we are successful is because we have been able to cherry pick, as the expression goes in America, the best of every culture,’’ he said.

America, he added, was a great country because it was a nation of emigrants.

Mr Biden recalled how his great-great grandfather had set out from his home, not from where the heritage centre is now located, for the United States. He could not have known, said Mr Biden, what awaited him but, like so many, he had courage and hope and he was resilient.

A year later, his wife and children joined him. “They are really the American story,’’ he added. “That is who we are as a nation.’’

At a ceremony in the heritage centre in Carlingford, Louth county council chairman Paul Bell presented Mr Biden with a wooden bull, made by local craftsman, Joe Lawler, to mark his being made a free man of the county. The attendance included Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

Mr Biden, accompanied members of his family, including five grandchildren, toured the peninsula in a cavalcade of cars as he traced his ancestry. He was warmly greeted by groups of people who waved Irish and American flags, while posters along the route welcomed him “home’’.

The vice-president also visited Kilwirra cemetery to spend some time at the grave of his Finnegan ancestors. By then, the sun was shining brightly and it was time to move on to Lily Finnegan’s pub in Whitestown to meet more cousins.

Earlier, he was given a tour of the prehistoric Newgrange monument in Co Meath by Office of Public Works official Claire Tuffy who outlined its history in detail.
As he entered Newgrange, Mr Biden engaged in banter with journalists. “If we are not out in a thousand years, come and get us,’’ he said.