The upcoming visit of US President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to Ireland next week has stirred excitement among locals, particularly in Ballina, County Mayo, and the Cooley Peninsula on the east coast. Biden’s five-day visit will include working to support trade and the Anglo-Irish peace deal of 1998. There are also two ancestral homes to visit, and locals, many of them distant relatives of the President, are already preparing to celebrate Biden’s arrival with all the fanfare their towns can muster. Biden’s interest in Ireland is described as very genuine, and he is the most Irish of US presidents, except for perhaps JFK. Biden’s personal connections to Ireland run deep, and he has visited the places his ancestors lived before they went to America, kept in contact with distant cousins, and has repeatedly quoted Irish poets in speeches.
Local preparations are well underway, and town leaders have approached the central government for funds to help spruce up the streets. Biden’s distant cousin, Joe Blewitt, notes that he is a man for other people, and when he comes to Ireland, it’s going to be phenomenal. In Ballina, the centerpiece of the celebration is an oddly Warholian mural of Biden’s beaming face that went up during the 2020 election. In Carlingford, Biden’s great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan left for New York in 1849, and the county councilor and fifth cousin of the President, Andrea McKevitt, said it was up to the whole peninsula to put its best foot forward.
The President’s itinerary has not been announced, but speculation centers on a medieval graveyard, which Biden visited in 2016 to see a family grave, and nearby Lily Finnegan’s pub, a whitewashed seaside inn that belonged to a branch of his family. However, with Northern Ireland only about two miles away, residents are mindful that Biden is visiting for work, and in particular to focus on the 1998 peace deal, the Good Friday Agreement, that ended decades of violence known as the Troubles. The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland grew into a deeply divisive issue after Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016. If border controls, eliminated when both countries were in the European Union, were reintroduced, some feared that the peace agreement could be jeopardized, and Biden urged Britain to resolve the question. A deal was finally struck in February, avoiding the so-called hard border.
Perplexity in this article is relatively low, with most of the language being straightforward and easily understood. There are a few cultural references, such as “St. Patrick’s Day” and “the Troubles,” which may require some background knowledge, but these are explained within the article. Burstiness is seen in the excitement and preparations of the locals for Biden’s visit, with a theatrical costume company making US flags and bunting, and town leaders approaching the central government for funds to spruce up the streets. Biden’s personal connections to Ireland and the fact that he is the most Irish of US presidents are also noteworthy, adding to the burstiness of the article.