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With President Biden now inaugurated at the 46th President of the United States of America  is there a chance that he could visit Newry on a future trip to Ireland, possibly just after partaking of a creamy pint in Lily Finnegans pub in Whitestown? Newry, Mourne and Council if they haven't already are quite possibly issuing the invite, no doubt while you read this!

Could President Biden be standing here for real before his term ends as the 46th President of the United States?
Could President Biden be standing here at the Albert Basin for real before his term ends as the 46th President of the United States?

Lily Finnegan's is located beside what is thought to be his ancestral home in County Louth  and the bar has already had two visits from Biden, in 2016 in his Vice President capacity and again in 2017. The president's  great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan was christened in Cooley Parish and it is documented that he and his wife and family sailed from the Port of Newry to New York, albeit a year apart from each other.

Owen it seems sailed 1848/1849, with some sources stating that he sailed from Newry port on 'The Brothers' but the Newry.ie jury is still out on whether it actually was that ship. We did though see the evidence that Owen's wife and family (including the President's great-grandfather, James) sailed on the Marchioness of Bute in 1850 from Newry Port.

President Biden at Lily Finnegans in his VP capacity in 2016. Photograph with kind permission of Lily Finnegans
President Biden at Lily Finnegans in his VP capacity in 2016. Photograph with kind permission of Lily Finnegans

Now that the President has been inauguarated Newry, Mourne and Down Council have agreed to issue an invite to the President to visit the area following a proposal from * Councillor Patrick Brown, seconded by Councillor Gary Stokes.

The proposal invites him not only to Newry but to the wider district - "Noting the ancestral links that President (-Elect) Biden has with Ireland, including the Cooley Penninsula and the Port of Newry, and the impact that he can have as an ally in any future discussions with the UK on future Post-Brexit trade, Council will write to the White House and the NI Consulate after his Inauguration inviting him to our district, to the city of Newry, to the resting place of St Patrick in Downpatrick and the wider district as part of any official visit he may plan to the Island during his term as President. It will also write to Louth County Council inviting them to send a joint invite."

A spokesperson from Lily Finnegans speaking about the first visit to the bar 25 June 2016 said "At 7.30pm the 30 strong motorcade of armoured vehicles, secret service, SWAT teams, Garda and press buses made its way through the small winding country roads of Cooley to here in Whitestown!

"We waited patiently to greet Mr Biden as he made his way through the delighted crowds, posing for photos and chatting to the locals all the while flanked by over a dozen secret service agents!

"As he made his entry into the bar, he turned to the masses of press reporters and cameramen and said “I don’t wanna go home!”

"Once inside Vice President Biden was entertained by local musician Henry Mac and gladly posed for photos with the guests and eventually sat down and showed us his family tree put together by top genealogist Megan Smolenyak and explained his connection to the area as his Great Great Grandfather Owen Finnegan was baptised in the Cooley parish in 1814 and the family home was believed to be a small building only yards from the bar which still stands today in the garden belonging to Robbie & Aoife Coan. Owen Finnegan emigrated to the States in 1849 and the rest as they say is history!

"An hour and a half later the VP and his entourage departed for Dublin airport to be whisked back to Washington aboard Air Force 2. A historic day indeed!"

Perhaps a newly upgraded version of that entourage will stop by at the Albert Basin for a look around in the coming years ... Covid permitting of course!

* 20/1/21 Correction- Cllr Brown proposed

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