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'Sleepless, nervous night, but he'll win' - Biden Irish cousin Joe

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Joe Biden’s cousin Joe Blewitt (left) and local man PJ Clarke wait for the election results in Ballina, Co Mayo

Joe Biden’s cousin Joe Blewitt (left) and local man PJ Clarke wait for the election results in Ballina, Co Mayo

Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus

Joe Biden’s cousin Joe Blewitt (left) and local man PJ Clarke wait for the election results in Ballina, Co Mayo

Joe Blewitt had a fitful few hours of sleep.

At 4am on election night, things weren't looking good for his cousin Joe Biden, so he went to bed.

However, as dawn broke over Co Mayo, the ancestral home of the US presidential hopeful, things were looking up.

Polls that had looked grim took on a different hue.

Throughout yesterday, Mr Blewitt patiently fielded calls and requests from the local, national and international media, all the while checking rolling news and the latest projections on the race to the White House.

"It's exciting, but you would be a bit nervous too," he said.

"It was a long night, and at one stage I wasn't sure it was going his way, but I think he's going to do it.

Happy

"We would be so happy for him and his family, and Americans would be very lucky to have such a decent, lovely man as their president.

"He really does love people, he cares about what happens to people, and that's what the world needs now."

The Ballina-based plumber is a third cousin of Mr Biden and his family have enjoyed a close relationship with the former vice-president for years.

In the run-up to the election, Mr Blewitt emblazoned his work van with the message: "Joe Biden for the White House and Joe Blewitt for Your House."

A picture of the van went viral, and Mr Blewitt received calls from news networks all over the world.

"I had CNN and Al Jazeera ringing up. They both wanted to watch the election with us, which would have been a bit of craic," he said.

"But with Covid it couldn't happen, but it was funny to think you would have them in your living room."

In 2016, Mr Biden visited Ireland along with his children and grandchildren.

He returned in 2017 to fulfil a promise to his cousin, Laurita Blewitt, to turn the sod on the new Mayo Roscommon Hospice where she works as a fundraising manager.

As a surprise from Mr Biden when he received the Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama, his family arranged for the Blewitts to share in the celebration in the White House.

Only last week on the campaign trail, Mr Biden mentioned the Blewitts when explaining his proud Irish heritage while canvassing in Pennsylvania.

He has always identified as Irish Catholic, but it was during a state visit in 2016 that his full family history was revealed.

The presidential hopeful is five-eighths Irish. His great-great-grandfather on his father's side emigrated from Knockmore, Co Mayo, in the 19th century at the age of 18.

His mother Catherine 'Kitty' Jean's maiden name is Finnegan, and her side of the family was traced back to his great-great-grandfather, who emigrated from the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth in 1850

As the ballots flooded in across the news networks, the mood in Doonbeg, Co Clare, was less upbeat.

The small coastal village where Donald Trump owns the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel is firmly in support of the president.

Speaking shortly after the latest polls suggested a Biden victory, local man Mort McInerney said he was bitterly disappointed with the emerging results.

"I'm not watching it," he said. "I'm very disappointed. I had hoped Trump would have done better.

"I'm very disappointed about it for the sake of the parish and local people.

Respect

"I suppose if he loses it will give him more time for his businesses.

"The big thing for me is his pro-life stance. I respect him for that."

Mr McInerney said it will be a "big problem" if Mr Biden wins the election.

"I don't know what to say, it's a big problem. We'll survive, I suppose, and the Covid is a much bigger threat around here.

"I would hope it would still go his way, but we'll have to put up with the result if he doesn't win.

"He will definitely - whatever happens - still have friends here in Doonbeg.

"The thing was, he was very friendly with our local priest who died recently, and he wrote a lovely letter when he passed.

"He was a different person from the one portrayed in the media."


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