By Josh Payne, PA
President Joe Biden has been told he personifies the story of Ireland as he spoke of how his ancestors were “emblematic of so many Irish and American families”.
Mr Biden has visited Co Louth and is scheduled to travel to Co Mayo, with his ancestors hailing from both areas.
During his keynote speech to the Dáil on Thursday, the president recalled a trip to Ireland with his family in 2016 when they explored their ancestry in the Cooley Peninsula.
He spoke of returning to Carlingford on Wednesday, and the view over Carlingford Lough, as “likely one of the last glimpses of Ireland my Finnegan ancestors saw as they gazed on their way out in what in those days was referred to as a coffin ship”.
In remarks welcoming Mr Biden to the Dail, Speaker Sean O’Fearghail described the president as “one of us”.
He said: “You often speak of your Irish roots with great pride and affection especially your ancestors from Louth and Mayo.
“The story of Ireland is inextricably linked to emigration and in many ways, you personify it.”
Mr Biden told the Dáil chamber that talking about his Irish ancestry is “not to wax poetic about bygone days, but because the story of my family’s journey and those who left and those who stayed is emblematic of the stories of so many Irish and American families”.
He said: “These stories are the very heart of what binds Ireland and America together.
“They speak to a history defined by our dreams, they speak to a present written by our shared responsibilities, and they speak to a future poised for unlimited shared possibilities.
“Today I’d like to reflect on the enduring strength of the connections between Ireland and the United States, a partnership for the ages.”
Continuing his words on the history of Ireland, Mr Biden said: “Their sweat is soaked with communities across the nation – all across America, you can’t go anywhere and not find them.
“The journeys of our ancestors expanded our horizons. They became the untiring backbone of America’s progress as a nation.”