1. Joe Biden was born in 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Scranton is actually twinned with Ballina, Co. Mayo. The US Vice President’s visit to Ballina will see him visit his ancestral home as part of a six-day visit to Ireland. He will also visit Dublin and Louth on his journey, and will deliver a keynote speech in Dublin Castle on Friday where he will talk about “the Irish-American experience, the shared heritage of the two nations, and the values of tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness”.
2. Biden’s family emigrated to the US in the 19th century from Garden St., Ballina. His great-great-great grandfather Edward Blewitt and great-great grandfather Owen Finnegan came from the area. The family also had connections to Knockmore and Ardagh. Mr. Biden’s family history was traced by the North Mayo Heritage Centre in Enniscoe, near Crossmolina.
3. Joe Biden is the fifth-youngest US senator ever to be elected at the age of 29 in 1971.
4. Biden carries a good-luck charm everywhere he goes. He always likes to carry a rosary, though he says he has to replace them all the time because they tend to go missing!
5. The Vice President has a huge interest in golf and is rumoured to be set to play a round with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Mayo. The county has a wealth of beautiful and challenging courses to choose from. Joe Biden is almost certain to win, with a handicap in single figures. An Taoiseach however, is likely to hold his own, with a handicap of 13.
6. In the space of a week, no fewer than three world leaders will visit the Mayo North capital of Ballina – United States Vice President Joe Biden, Ballina native and former Irish President and UN Special Envoy, Mary Robinson, and Member of the Elders and Human Rights Activist Hina Jilani. Both women are visiting Ballina on Saturday 25th June to speak at the Mary Robinson Centre’s Third Annual International Human Rights Lecture.