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Irish eyes are Biden Joe Biden 'in heaven' during trip to ancestral home in Co Louth

"Back then I asked if he would run for president - he smiled and gave me a wink and walked away"

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Joe Biden faces off with Trump in Tuesday’s vote

Joe Biden faces off with Trump in Tuesday’s vote

Joe Biden faces off with Trump in Tuesday’s vote

"Man, you're in heaven", said Joe Biden when a secret service agent asked him where they were when they stopped off at Lily Finnegan's pub in Co Louth.

It did not matter to teetotaller Biden, then US vice-president, that he didn't enjoy a pint four years ago in the busy Carlingford hostelry - because to him he was back in the home of his ancestors.

As America gears up for the presidential election on Tuesday, there's a strong probability that the 46th president of the United States will be another Irish-American.

Biden's links to Ireland run deep.

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Joe Biden stopped off at Lily Finnegan’s in 2016

Joe Biden stopped off at Lily Finnegan’s in 2016

Joe Biden stopped off at Lily Finnegan’s in 2016

His mother's family name is Finnegan and her ancestors hailed from the Cooley peninsula in Co Louth.

Joe's mother, Jean Finnegan, was born in the US to Ambrose Finnegan and Geraldine Blewitt. Ambrose's father, James Finnegan, was seven years of age when he arrived in New York on the SS Marchioness of Bute in 1850 with his mother and two younger brothers.

James's father was a 24-year-old shoemaker called Owen Finnegan, who had arrived in America a year earlier on board the SS Isaac Wright. James Finnegan later married Catherine Roche, whose parents Thomas and Bridget Roche were also born in Ireland.

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Joe Biden stopped off at Lily Finnegan’s in 2016

Joe Biden stopped off at Lily Finnegan’s in 2016

Joe Biden stopped off at Lily Finnegan’s in 2016

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Paul Allen

Paul Allen

Paul Allen

In the Blewitt line, Biden's great-great-great-grandfather Edward made the decision to emigrate to America from Co Mayo in 1851, though he may have been influenced by his son, Patrick - Biden's great-great-grandfather.

Joining his parents and seven siblings on the voyage, 18-year-old Pat is recorded as a sailor on the ship's manifest.

All eight of Joe's great-great-grandparents on his mother's side were born in Ireland in the early 1800s. Two of his great-grandparents on his father's side were also born in Ireland.

In total, 10 of Joe's 16 great-great- grandparents were born in Ireland.

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The 'Irish For Biden' campaign will be encouraging Irish people to contact their friends and relatives in the US to get out and vote for Biden on Tuesday and in postal ballots.

Leading the campaign is Dublin based PR guru Paul Allen, who has Bill Clinton on speed dial and has cemented relations with major Irish American politicians for more than a quarter of a century.

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Trump is currently trailing in the polls

Trump is currently trailing in the polls

Trump is currently trailing in the polls

"I had met Biden several times in Washington but the first time I got to work with him was back in 2016," recalls Paul.

"We were hired by Louth County Council to organise the visit of the vice president to the county, with trips to places like the Cooley Peninsula and Carlingford.

"I was aware of his Lily Finnegan's link and arranged for him to go there, where he replied to the secret service agent that he was in heaven there.

"Back then I asked if he would run for president - he smiled and gave me a wink and walked away."

He has got to know the real Joe Biden through many meetings.

"He was like an old uncle and a comfortable pair of slippers, he is more interested in you than talking about himself," says Paul.

"He has great interest in the Irish and he would enjoy it, he would mix and mingle with the great and the good.

"He is a devout Catholic. He has had a lot of tragedy in his life, losing his (first) wife and daughter in a car crash and then later his son to cancer, and it's his faith driving him on."

Biden had been to Ireland several times privately before his official visit here in 2016.

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Rob Kearney

Rob Kearney

Rob Kearney

During that trip he met Ireland rugby players Rob and Dave Kearney at a function in Farmleigh in Dublin. When he discovered the Louth men were fifth cousins, he invited them to the White House for a St Patrick's Day party and later tweeted Rob congratulations after Ireland beat the All Blacks in Chicago.

"When we had him in Carlingford he basically took a long time to go from A to B, he couldn't be rushed, he was genuinely interested in people and was very, very keen," recalls Paul.

"He has already spoken about his commitment to Ireland and he pointed out issues such as the Brexit business with the UK. He would also be strenuously against a hard border."

Paul was involved in trying to get Hillary Clinton elected in the last US presidential election so he's learned not to count his chickens.

"As Maureen Potter would say keep your breath to cool your porridge, you never know how this would pan out and go, there's still a fair bit of time," he says.

Paul got involved in Irish American politics after being hired by Albert Reynolds during his time as Taoiseach in the 1990s to help with communications and script writing. He later continued his Government involvement with Bertie Ahern.

During that time he became pals with Bill Clinton.

"My company would have been involved with Clinton over the years and I built up relationships with members of the Democratic party," he explains.

"When Clinton came in I kind of bonded with him because he was a great fan of JFK and JFK's visit to Ireland. I have a large collection of presidential memorabilia.

"After his visit to Ireland I gave him a CD of JFK's speeches. He said 'if ever I could give you anything in return...' I said 'I love your cufflinks'. So that Christmas the cufflinks arrived!"

Paul said he will stay up into the early hours of Wednesday morning to see what he hopes is Biden having a celebration party.

"He said if elected he would hope to come back in the springtime, which echoes the tones of JFK. He loves to quote Yeats and Seamus Heaney, and reveals he'd love to see an All-Ireland final here.

"Hopefully he can do all that when he's the next president of the United States."

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