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‘It feels great,’ Biden says as Irish tour moves to Dublin

u.s. president joe biden visits ireland
US President Joe Biden talks to people in a pub in Dundalk, Ireland

U.S. President Joe Biden, a proud Irish-American, took his three-day tour of Ireland to Dublin on Thursday where he met the country’s president and prime minister ahead of an address to parliament and banquet at Dublin Castle.

Biden’s focus on one of his longest trips abroadas president shifted to celebrating his heritage from peace in Northern Ireland, where on Wednesday he urged political leaders there to restore their power-sharing government with the promise of significant U.S. investment.

He later enjoyed a more light-hearted trip to the Irish county of Louth, where his great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan emigrated to the United States in 1849. On Friday he is to meet relatives from another side of his family in County Mayo.

“It feels great,” Biden told journalists after meeting Irish President Michael D. Higgins,when asked what it was like to “be home”.

“I know it sounds silly but there are so many Irish Americans, like my relatives who got to America in 1844, ’45, ’46, they’ve never been back here.”

Biden quipped he did not want to go back to Washington while at the “incredible” residence of fellow octogenarian Higgins. Higgins previously hosted then-Vice President Biden at Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 2016, and again in 2017.

Biden said he quoted the Irish proverb that “your feet will bring you where your heart is” when signing the visitors’ book, and wrote that it was an honour to return to the home of his ancestors to celebrate all that binds Ireland and the U.S.

Providing plenty of images back home ahead of his planned 2024 re-election campaign, Biden also planted an oak tree in the presidential garden and was due to sample a demonstration of Gaelic sports after meeting Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

Biden, accompanied for some of his Dublin engagement by his son Hunter, sister Valerie and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, will be guest of honour at a banquet at St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle on Thursday evening, an honour previously given to Queen Elizabeth II and U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

In the afternoon he will become the fourth U.S. president to address a joint session of the Irish parliament – after Kennedy in 1963, Ronald Reagan in 1984 and Bill Clinton in 1995.

On Friday he returns to County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland to meet relatives from another side of his family, that of great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt. He will also visit the Catholic shrine in Knockand make a public address in the town of Ballina to wrap up his tour.

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