When An Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited the US to mark St Patrick’s Day he brought a special gift with him from his native county for Vice President Joe Biden.
Mr Kenny presented Mr Biden with a facsimile of an original letter written by Theobold Wolfe Tone, the original of which is part of Mayo County Council’s Jackie Clarke Collection.
The letter is signed in his ‘nom de guerre’, John Smith, and requests the re-issue of his letters of service in his real name in order to facilitate his return to fight for Ireland.
The gift has special significance for Mr Biden who has previously named Wolfe Tone as his hero. The Vice President also has strong links with Co Mayo.
Not only was he born in Ballina’s US twin town of Scranton, he is also a descendant of Patrick Blewitt, who emigrated from Mayo in 1835. The Blewitt family are believed to have come to Ireland with the French expedition of 1798, which was led by Wolfe Tone.
The gift and accompanying hand-printed letter were produced on hand-made paper and dedicated to the memory of Mr Biden’s Mayo-born great-great grandfather. The letter concludes with the wish that Mr Biden might one day have the opportunity to visit Mayo County Council’s Jackie Clarke Collection, which will open permanently to the public later this year in the former Provincial Bank building on Pearse Street in Ballina.