he stars and stripes have been fluttering all week on the streets of Ballina — the town of just 10,000 in the west of Ireland where US president-elect Joe Biden’s Irish ancestors hail from.
A small Irish town claims victory after Biden wins
Ten of the former vice president’s 16 great-great-grandparents were born in Ireland, according to the Irish for Biden campaign, with Edward Blewitt, Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather, providing the Ballina connection.
On Saturday, as CNN projected Biden’s White House win, Ballina residents came out to celebrate their distant kin’s success.
“I think Ballina has saved the world tonight, because without Ballina, there would be no Joe Biden,” Smiler Mitchell, a local publican, told CNN.
Balloons were tied to cars and the crowd sang “The Green and Red of Mayo,” a famous ballad about the county where Ballina is situated. One car with a cardboard cut out of Biden in the front seat had a license plate which read, “PENNSYLVANIA BIDEN #1.”
In the lead-up to the election, the community held a “Ridin’ for Biden” event around the bridges crossing the River Moy with a carousel of cars passing the town’s iconic cathedral and finishing in front of a mural of the man himself, erected in the town’s main square.
“Ballina has always been an underdog town in the west of Ireland, which has had its own challenges in the past,” said local politician Mark Duffy.
“Now we think it’s our time to shine and put our best foot forward. We look forward to welcoming as many visitors from across the US and across the political divide.”
He noted that the town is in a beautiful part of the world, with lakes, mountains and urban forest in the surrounding area.
Biden still has distant relatives in the town.
Joe Blewitt, a third cousin, who has met the president-elect several times, said his namesake “is totally down to earth.”
“He’s a family man,” Blewitt told CNN by phone.