Live: Joe Biden speech in Ballina as Ireland visit ends

Thousands of people gathered in the town to watch his speech, with music earlier in the evening from The Coronas, The Acedamic, and the Chieftans are due to perform for the final time.
Live: Joe Biden speech in Ballina as Ireland visit ends

Michael Bolton

Joe Biden has now arrived on stage, waving to the crowd, as he is set to begin his speech:

Hello, Mary, I see the light, hello Mayo. It's great to be here with you all. It's great to to be here on Ballina's 30th anniversary.

This is the home to Ireland's first female President. I want to thank the Taoiseach for his hospitality, and his wonderful friendship.

Lets give a hand up to the Chieftains. Thank you for performing tonight.


US president Joe Biden completes his four-day visit of Ireland as he visited his family roots in Ballina in Co. Mayo.

Thousands of people gathered in the town to watch his speech, with music earlier in the evening from The Coronas, The Acedamic, and the Chieftans, who are performing for the final time.

Earlier today, Mr Biden visited Knock Shrine, where he met the priest who gave his late son Beau his final rites.

Mr Biden also visited the Mayo Roscommon Hospice, where he was shown a plaque to his late son.

Before Mr Biden makes his highly anticipated speech, former Ireland President Mary Robinson, who is from Ballina, read out a poem from Evan Boland, called the Emigrant Irish.

“The poem was important, because Eavan felt we should be caring more for those who had to leave the country and find their way and struggle, and love their country from afar, but not feel that they were cherished and loved, as I’m glad to say they are now,” she said.

At around 9.10pm there was a flurry of excitement among the waiting crowd in Ballina as helicopters were spotted in the sky above the cathedral.

As a helicopter flew over the River Moy cheers went up from those gathered, with one of The Chieftains shouting “there he is” to the delight of the expectant crowd.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is now speaking in front of the crowd.

President Biden, Ambassador Cronin, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Mr President, welcome back to Mayo, fáilte ar ais chuig Contae Maigh Eo, Contae iontach, Contae spescialta, a county very close to my heart as well as to your own and thank you for choosing to make this such a big part of your visit.

The story of Ireland can be told through our poetry and music, but it is most eloquently expressed through our people.

It is a story of longing – for a better life, a better society, and a better world.  A story of unimaginable courage in the face of loss.

And, above all, it is a story of love – for country, for family, and for community.

It is your story, Mr President, as well as our own.

Thank you, for your lifelong commitment to peace on our island, your friendship, for the leadership you have shown protecting all that has been achieved, and for everything you are doing to help build a better future here, in America and in our world.

In this place, history and hope are never too far apart.

Twenty-five years ago, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, to use the words of Maya Angelou, my favourite American poet - ‘we released our fingers from fists of hostility, and allowed the pure air to cool our palms’. ‘History’, she reminds us, ‘despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again’. By facing our past together, our island learned ‘a brave and startling truth’: nothing is ever truly impossible.

In the darkest days of our country’s history, the Blewitts and the Finnegans, and countless other families, left these shores to for a better life in a new world.

Mayo has changed considerably – Ireland has changed considerably - since Edward Blewit fled these shores during the worst days of the famine.

We were a country in despair, starved of food and opportunity, and starved for even longer of basic freedoms and rights.  A country being denuded of its people.   A country that was not in charge of its own affairs.

Today, as you have witnessed, Mayo is linked to the world by fibre optics and its international airport, and it is connected to communities across the globe through its people.

Mayo is home to American companies who provide good jobs for so many and a new technological university which provides the greatest passport of all – an education.

Here outside St. Muredach’s Cathedral we must rededicate ourselves to playing our part in the fight between darkness and light, despair and hope, injustice and dignity.

We pray for the wisdom to guide us, the words to speak up for those without a voice, the shield to protect our planet, and the strength to do what is right.

Mr President, your life story reminds us that although tragedy may shape us, it never solely defines us.  Love of country, of family, and of each other moves us forward, providing new hope and inspiring others along the way.

President Biden, you are the most Irish of all American presidents, not because of what is written on your family tree, but because of what is enshrined in your soul.

We did not need to gather here today in our thousands to say: ‘Welcome back to Ireland’.  In your heart, you never left.

We look forward to your words.

Thank you.

Follow our post for live updates on Mr Biden's speech.


More in this section

Sponsored Content

Contact Us Cookie Policy Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions

© Evening Echo Ltd, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork. Registered in Ireland: 523713

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more