We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Joe Blewitt (left) with friends and relatives in Ballina this afternoon PA
Fortunate Son

People in Joe Biden's ancestral home of Ballina celebrate his victory in the US election

“He’s a really nice fella. He’s good to talk to.”

LOCALS IN JOE Biden’s ancestral home of Ballina are celebrating his election as President of the United States.

The Democrat became president-elect this afternoon after securing the state of Pennsylvania, giving him the required 270 electoral college votes.

Ballina has been decked out in the famous stars and stripes in anticipation of his success.

Ballina local Joe Blewitt, a cousin of Biden, praised the president-elect’s approach compared with that of Donald Trump. 

“Joe Biden is talking about policies, he’s meeting with all the health officials and he’s setting up a plan,” Blewitt said. 

“The other man is still talking about himself. That was always the case with him. It wasn’t about the people, it was about himself.”

Blewitt, a heating and plumbing contractor, was invited to the White House in 2017, when Biden was awarded the congressional medal of freedom from then-president Barack Obama.

He is hoping he will be able to make it over again for the inauguration.

He said: “Hopefully we can go back over in January.”

The pair are in regular contact too, with Blewitt remarking: “They’re sound, they’re good people and he’s a really nice fella. He’s good to talk to.”

The festival atmosphere in Ballina on Saturday was a mark of how much Biden’s victory means to the town.

“He was here when he was vice president and the hype when he was here the last time was unbelievable. They’re so proud of him.

“Now he’ll be the President of the United States, they’re delighted, they’re absolutely delighted. To think one of their own is one of the most powerful men in the world,” Blewitt said.

Businesses all over the town, many of them closed due to lockdown restrictions, were all decked out in posters and American flags, while locals sipped champagne in celebration.

It was especially sweet for Beryl McCrainey Slevin, a California native who has lived in Ballina for over 15 years.

Her hope is that Biden will be able to reunite her homeland after a divisive four years under Trump.

us-presidential-candidate-joe-bidens-ancestral-home-in-ireland Beryl McCrainey Slevin PA PA

She said: “I’m really, really hopeful. I’m hoping that after this election we can really work on building alliances with everyone in the country.

“We are all American and the ideals of America are so important globally, that I think it’s really important that we come together once again as a nation and continue the work of building the American dream for everyone.”

She added: “For me personally, it will bring back dignity to the White House. Hopefully it will bring about the necessary changes in terms of systemic racial problems that we’re having and have had historically in America.

“I also feel very strongly that Joe Biden is in a place now that he’s ready to do serious justice reform, police reform nationally.”

She met with Biden when he visited Ballina while serving as vice president and is looking forward to his return.

“The town just went bananas. It was just so exciting to have him here. Everybody was out, the children were out, schoolkids were out to greet the plane over at Knock.

“Really for all of Co Mayo it was amazing, but in particular for Ballina. You feel like he’s one of us, he’s one of our own” she said.

She added: “They were just warm, wonderful people. I’m excited for the town and the future of the town.

“I’m excited for America, even though I live here. It’s the country of my birth, and you always want the best for home. Absolutely, a double win.”

Meanwhile, Joe Blewitt is not ruling out the possibility of a Joe Biden plaza in Ballina – similar to the one built in Moneygall to honour Barack Obama when he visited his ancestral home.

“Yeah, we’ve got messages coming in now, where are we going to put it? It’s great craic” he said.

Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewit emigrated from the town almost 200 years ago, having worked as a brick-maker and as a civil engineer helping to map Ireland.

Ten of his 16 great-great grandparents were also born in Ireland.

A mural of Biden, which overlooks the main square in the old market town, was recently created by local artists Smiler Mitchell and Leslie Lackey.

After the unveiling, Biden pledged to revisit the town if he wins the election.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel