President Joe Biden’s visit to the island of Ireland starts on Tuesday 11th April, making him the eighth US president to visit Ireland.
Mr Biden is visiting to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, with the trip set to take in Belfast, Dublin, Mayo and Louth. Mr Biden is expected to arrive in Belfast late in the evening. He will be greeted by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak. Mr Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Mr Sunak on Wednesday morning.
He will then travel to Ulster University, where he will deliver a speech at the university’s newly opened campus.
At a White House press briefing, national security council co-ordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said Mr Biden will meet President Michael D Higgins on Thursday. Following that ceremony, he will meet again with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, whom the president just hosted in the US for St Patrick’s Day.
After his meeting with President Higgins, Mr Biden will become the fourth US president to address the Oireachtas. He follows John F Kennedy in 1963, Ronald Reagan in 1984 and Bill Clinton in 1995. He is the eighth US president to visit Ireland. On Thursday evening, Mr Biden will attend a banquet dinner in Dublin Castle.
President Biden has strong ancestral ties to County Mayo, Ireland, as his great-great-grandfather, Edward Blewitt, was born there before emigrating to the United States in the mid-19th century. Biden has visited Ireland several times over the years, including a visit to County Mayo in 2016 when he was the Vice President of the United States.
President Biden has spoken about his connection to Ballina and his desire to visit the town. In fact, during his 2020 presidential campaign, he mentioned that if he were to win the election, he would make a trip to Ireland and visit his ancestral hometown of Ballina.
On Friday, April 14th Mr Biden will fly into Ireland West Airport to spend the final day of his visit in Co Mayo.
He will visit the Knock Shrine and the North Mayo Heritage and Genealogical Centre’s family history research unit before going on to Ballina. He will finish his visit with a speech at St Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina.
Mr Kirby said the president’s great-great-great grandfather Edward Blewitt sold 27,000 bricks to the cathedral in 1827. Those bricks were used to construct and support the great cathedral and help Edward afford to buy tickets for himself and for his family to sail to America decades later in 1851.
The president said he is is very much looking forward to that trip and to celebrating the deep historic ties that our two countries and our two people continue to share.
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