US Vice President Joe Biden to begin Irish visit

Joe Biden Image copyright Reuters
Image caption US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the Republic of Ireland will be both personal and political as he traces his Irish ancestry in counties Louth and Mayo

US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Dublin later to begin a six-day visit to the Republic of Ireland.

He has recently spoken of how his Irish heritage has "shaped" his entire life.

His itinerary includes visits to counties Louth and Mayo - places which were home to his ancestors before they emigrated during the Irish famine.

He will also meet Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, President Michael D Higgins and make a series of speeches on Irish-American relations.

Image copyright Richard Sowersby
Image caption Mr Biden will meet Irish President Michael D Higgins at his official residence - Áras an Uachtaráin - in Dublin's Phoenix Park

Mr Biden is due to fly into Dublin Airport at about 19:20 local time on Tuesday, before travelling to Government Buildings for a meeting with the taoiseach.

'Shared heritage'

It will be the first of several engagements with County Mayo native Mr Kenny, who will accompany Mr Biden on a tour of his home county on Wednesday, before fulfilling a long-standing promise to play a round of golf with him on Thursday.

On Friday, Mr Biden will deliver speeches at both Trinity College and Dublin Castle before addressing the American Ireland Fund's 40th Anniversary Gala in the city.

Image caption Mr Biden will tour the Trinity College library in Dublin, which was also visited by US First Lady Michelle Obama and her children in 2013
Image caption Mr Biden's trip includes a visit to Newgrange, a 5,200-year-old passage tomb in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, which has been designated as a World Heritage Site

A White House statement said his Dublin Castle speech will concentrate on "the Irish-American experience" and "the shared heritage of the two nations".

The event is open to members of the public and tickets have been allocated on "a first come, first served basis".

"All guests should be prepared to go through airport-like security," according to the US Embassy in Dublin.

On Saturday, Mr Biden is due to visit Newgrange in County Meath - a Stone Age monument which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From there he is due to travel to County Louth on Saturday afternoon, the area where his great-great-grandfather, Owen Finnegan, is believed to have lived before he emigrated in 1849.

Mr Biden will tour the ruins of Kilwirra Church and cemetery in Templetown on the Cooley peninsula.

After spending Saturday night in Dublin, the vice president is due to return to the US on Sunday.

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