01 Dec 2021

Biden will make his own piece of history

American Vice President to trace Cooley ancestors

Biden will make his own piece of history
Gene Yore

US vice President Joe Biden will receive a civic award from Louth County Council when he visits Louth this Saturday.

The award will be made at the Holy Trinity Heritage Centre Carlingford. This week council officials were working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the US embassy in Dublin to finalise arrangements.

The chief executive of Louth County Council Ms Joan Martin said the civic award is in recognition of 'a son of Louth who is returning to his home town'.

She said his ancestors, the Finnegans came from Whitestown.

The Vice President's great-great grandfather Owen Finnegan came from Cooley and emigrated to the United States in 1849.

The vice President will come back to Ireland when Air Force One lands at Knock this Thursday.

As was the case with the visit of President Clinton in 2000 there will be tight security. In fact US security personnel have already been carrying out security checks here as is the case prior to such visits.

The Clinton visit was a huge success.

The press took over what is now the Tourist Office at the Square.

The American press found Dundalk in December a bewildering place, with this extract highlighting it perfectly:

“While on his way to Belfast, the President stopped at a potato town in the middle of a prairie to make a speech about peace in Ireland,” they wrote.

The M1 motorway hadn't been opened yet, but the barriers were taken down for President and Mrs Clinton, and daughter Chelsea, and Bertie Ahern who traveled with them and coached the President on the pronunciation of local names as they travelled in the limo. The Chinook helicopters had passed overhead on the previous days and were waiting at Aiken barracks to bring the Clinton's on to Belfast after the Dundalk visit.

Thousands of people gathered at the Square, filling most of Clanbrassil Street and waited patients in the crisp dry December dark evening for the President to arrive. Cllr Pearse O'Hanrahan welcomed the President and Mrs Clinton on behalf of the people of Dundalk. President Clinton made a plea for the peace process, he had been involved in, to continue. Just two years earlier the Good Friday Agreement had been signed.

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