US President Joe Biden has issued a letter to celebrate Mayo Day and honour his own ancestors that came from the county.
In an open letter, Mr Biden wished all those celebrating a “céad míle fáilte” and said that "the places we’re from are the places that shape us, climb into our hearts, and never leave us".
“From the cliffs of Downpatrick Head in the Wild Atlantic to the view of Clew Bay atop the Croagh Patrick, the beauty of County Mayo is only rivalled by the generosity and goodness of its people - a goodness I felt when I visited a few years ago and reconnected with my Irish family.
“The heart and spirit from Castlebar to Westport to Crossmolina and all the towns in between make us who we are. And they are a reminder that we are all connected by where we call home.
“Being Irish - as my mother always told me - is about family, faith, and the conviction that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. As we celebrate Mayo Day, may we continue to take pride in all the ways that County Mayo has shaped us," the President concluded.
Edward Blewitt, Mr Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather, grew up in Ballina and fled during An Gorta Mór (the Great Famine). Like many Irish Americans, it was a trauma that the Biden family has carried with it for generations and has deeply influenced the President’s thinking in relation to politics.
"When my great-grandfather got on a coffin ship in the Irish Sea, expectation was, was he going to live long enough on that ship to get to the United States of America.
"But they left because of what the Brits had been doing - they were in real, real trouble, they didn't want to leave but they had no choice.
"I can't guarantee we will solve everything but I can guarantee we can make everything better," President Biden when asked about people who risked their lives to cross the United States’ southern border.
As Vice President Joe Biden visited Mayo in 2016 and again in 2017 after leaving office; his distant cousins still live there and have taken huge pride in his political career.
"I'm sure he's pretty chuffed about it - I know we are anyway,” Laurita Blewitt in 2020 after he was first elected.
"We're delighted to have the relationship with him, and that friendship is very strong now over the last couple of years.
"He's been very resilient and we've seen that over the last couple of months against all his competitors in the Democratic race.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin says he is keen to return to Ireland now he is Commander-in-Chief but no details have been finalised.
Main image: President Joe Biden participates in a virtual bilateral meeting with Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Micheal Martin Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)