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Joe Biden turned the first sod at Mayo Hospice today and was presented with a county jersey

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 13/09/2017 Sean Murray

Former US Vice President Joe Biden © Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation Facebook Former US Vice President Joe Biden FORMER US VICE President Joe Biden was in Mayo today, where he turned the first sod for the new Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation.

Biden, whose ancestors emigrated from Mayo in the early 1800s, attended the ceremony with his brother Jimmy and nephew Jamie.

© Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation This is the second time Biden has been to his ancestral home in the past two years, after he met with then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins during his visit in June 2016.

In an interview with RTÉ during that visit, the former Vice President said the Irish trip means “a great deal” to him, as he had hoped to make the trip with his son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015.

At today’s ceremony, he turned the first sod for the new 14-bed hospice unit, and was presented with a Mayo jersey afterwards. Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny was also in attendance.

© Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation Chief Executive of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Martina Jennings told Mayo News that the project in Castlebar will start this November and be completed in February 2019.

It is expected to cost around €15 million in all, with a new facility in Roscommon due to follow later.

“We have raised €10m and secured a bank loan for the balance. We will continue fundraising though, to reduce the loan and for the €2m we need each year for palliative care throughout the community,” Jennings said.

© Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation Ancestor Network, a family history research company, dug into Biden’s family tree and found that his Irish roots are very strong.

With 10 of his 16 great-great-grandparents born in Ireland, Biden can call himself five-eighths Irish.

“They were among a generation of Irish people who emigrated to America at the height of the Great Famine,” John Hamrock of Ancestor Network told TheJournal.ie.


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