(Dublin) He felt “at home” in Ireland. Joe Biden received like a local child, closes on Friday the parenthesis he offered himself in the footsteps of his family, far from the tumult of the news.
“As the Irish saying goes, your feet will take you where your heart is,” he wrote in the guestbook of his visit, joking that he “doesn’t want to go back anymore.”
The American president has been as jovial as he is sentimental since arriving in the country on Wednesday, after a whirlwind visit to the British province of Northern Ireland.
“You are one of us,” Sean O’Fearghail, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, assured him on Thursday, where Joe Biden was greeted with a standing ovation.
In recent days, the 80-year-old Democrat has certainly raised the delicate subject of Northern Ireland several times, calling for the blocking of the institutions of the British province to be lifted.
He also praised the alliance of Washington and Dublin against Russia, spoke of economic development and the defense of democracy.
But Joe Biden, who came with his sister and son, above all offered himself a parenthesis, away from world news and the campaign for the 2024 presidential election in the United States, in which he says he “intends » to throw himself soon.
The 80-year-old Democrat took his time kissing a baby, chatting with young athletes, shaking hands and taking selfies with Irish people visibly excited about his visit – a stark contrast to the United States, where Joe Biden is not is hardly popular.
The American president, undoubtedly the one who most emphatically claims his Irish roots since John Fitzgerald Kennedy, planned a last trip to the northwest of the country on Friday, to Ballina, a cradle of his family.
A devout Catholic, he will first go to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock, a place of pilgrimage and then visit a center for historical and genealogical research, and then deliver a speech in front of several thousand people.
For this speech, Joe Biden naturally chose a place linked to his personal history: Saint Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina.
One of the president’s maternal ancestors, Edward Blewitt, in 1828 sold some 27,000 bricks for the construction of the religious building.
According to the White House, the transaction brought in the equivalent of 20,000 to 25,000 today’s dollars – which helped him a few years later to pay for the crossing to America, for him, his wife. and their eight children.
In his speech, Joe Biden is expected to again discuss the shared destiny of Ireland and the United States, and their common values: concern for “dignity”, and “faith” in the future.
Perhaps he will also let himself go, like Thursday in front of Parliament, for a moment of introspection.
The oldest president in American history, he tackled this politically burning issue head-on, which he almost never does.
“I’m at the end of my career, not the beginning,” Joe Biden said.
“You can see how old I am,” he continued, feeling that he had gleaned “some wisdom over the years.” “I have more experience than any other president in American history. It doesn’t make me better or worse, but it does give me some excuses. »