Joe Biden’s Irish Connection: Discovering the Cooley Peninsula

The Cooley Peninsula, located in County Louth, Ireland, offers a unique hiking experience, combining picturesque landscapes with a fascinating historical connection to the President of the United States, Joe Biden. Discover the region’s enchanting trails, immerse yourself in its rich history, and follow in the footsteps of President Joe Biden as he explores his Irish roots.

Joe Biden visit Carlingford on the Cooley Peninsula
Photo by John Williams on Unsplash

The Cooley Peninsula: A Haven for Hikers

Nestled on Ireland’s east coast, the Cooley Peninsula boasts a diverse landscape and a history that dates back to prehistoric times. Part of ancient Ulster, the region is steeped in myths and legends, most notably the epic tale of Cú Chulainn. But it’s not just the stories that make this area stand out – it is the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounds you.

Hiking in the Cooley Peninsula promises stunning vistas of mountains, coastlines, and lush countryside. With trails suited for beginners and experienced hikers alike, some popular routes include:

  • The Táin Way: A 40 km circular trail that traces the story of Cú Chulainn and the Táin Bó Cúailnge, passing through historical sites and picturesque landscapes.
  • The Carlingford Lough Greenway: A 8 km linear trail from The Carlingford Marina, through Ballyoonan, Knockangoran, and into Omeath, featuring views of the Mourne and Cooley Mountains.
  • The Slieve Foy Loop: A challenging 8 km loop, takes hikers to the summit of Slieve Foye, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Walking Holiday Ireland will provide maps, accommodation, luggage transfers, and local support for your self-guided five-day or eight-day walking holiday.

Hiking Marker on the Cooley Peninsula Hiking Tour, Hiking Ireland
Joe Biden's Irish Connection: Discovering the Cooley Peninsula 24

Joe Biden’s Connection to Cooley Peninsula

Let’s talk about Joe Biden’s connection to the Cooley Peninsula. As you may know, the President of the United States has Irish roots on both sides of his family tree. 

His maternal great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan was born in Cooley in 1836 and emigrated to America during the Great Irish Famine

His paternal great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt was born in Ballina in County Mayo in 1832 and emigrated to America during the famine.

President Biden has visited both places during his political career, most recently during his four-day trip to Ireland in April 2023. During this visit, he took the time to explore Carlingford, a picturesque village on the Cooley Peninsula.

He visited Carlingford Castle, also known as King John’s Castle, along the Taín Way, which dates back to the 12th century and overlooks Carlingford Lough. The castle was likely one of the last sights his great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan saw before he emigrated to America in 1849.

Abandoned Village, A heritage site in Carlingford, Co. louth
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Biden’s visit to the Cooley Peninsula highlights the strong ties between Ireland and the United States. As he said during his trip, “Ireland and America share a common ancestry and a common future.” 

By connecting with his ancestral roots and exploring the natural beauty of the Cooley Peninsula, Biden also connects with the people and culture of Ireland, strengthening the bond between the two nations.

Joe Biden’s visit to the Cooley Peninsula and Carlingford

US President Joe Biden visited the Cooley Peninsula and Carlingford in Co Louth on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. The trip was part of his first official visit to Ireland as president and a chance to reconnect with his Irish roots.

Mr Biden, who has traced his maternal ancestry to the Finnegan family from Co Louth, was greeted by Tánaiste Micheál Martin and a crowd of enthusiastic locals who braved the rain to welcome him.

King John's Castle, Carlingford, Cooley Peninsula HIking Tours
President Biden visited King John’s Castle, in Carlingford

Mr Biden then went to Dundalk, where he met more locals on Clanbrassil Street and stopped at McAteers The Food House restaurant. He was accompanied by former Irish rugby player Rob Kearney from Co Louth. 

He also visited The Windsor Bar on Dublin Street, where he had a family reunion with some Irish relatives, including his fourth cousin John-Owen Finnegan and fifth cousin Andrea McEvitt.

President Joe Biden visited the Windsor Bar and Restaurant in Dundalk, County Louth.
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In a speech at the bar, Mr Biden said being in Co Louth “feels like home” and that his mother, who could trace her roots back to the “wee county”, “would be so damn proud”. He praised Ireland’s role in the peace process in Northern Ireland and thanked Mr Martin for his ongoing support of Ireland. 

He also expressed his optimism for the future, saying that Irish people are “nostalgic about the future” and that hope beats in their hearts.

He ended his speech by saying, “Thank you for the welcome; the bad news is we’ll be back”. He then left Dundalk and returned to Dublin, where he stayed overnight at Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park. 

He is expected to continue his Irish visit on Thursday with a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Michael D Higgins.

Embark on Your Cooley Peninsula Hiking Adventure

Inspired by President Biden’s visit?

Plan your hiking adventure in the Cooley Peninsula with the help of local tour operator Walking Holiday Ireland. We offer guided and self-guided tours in the region, including the popular Cooley and Mourne Mountains Hiking Tour.

Enjoying the sunshine on a terrace in Carlingford, Walking Holiday Ireland
Enjoying the sunshine on a terrace in Carlingford, Walking Holiday Ireland

The Cooley Peninsula is a captivating destination that blends natural beauty, history, and the allure of Joe Biden’s ancestral connection. With trails catering to all levels of experience, there’s something for every hiker to enjoy. 

President Biden’s visit to the area highlights its significance to the Irish-American community and is a testament to the enduring bond between Ireland and the United States. So why wait?

Embark on your own Cooley Peninsula adventure and experience the magic of this remarkable region for yourself.

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