By Ed O’Loughlin, New York Times
BALLINA, Ireland — As America turned slowly blue, Ballina held its breath. Was it really possible that Joseph R. Biden Jr., considered a native son of this charming town on Ireland’s west coast — albeit five generations removed — was about to become the next American president?
It was. On Saturday, the election was called for Mr. Biden, and Ballina was ready to celebrate.
The first champagne cork was popped by Mr. Biden’s distant cousins in the town’s Market Square, watched by a few hundred delighted townspeople, two hours before CNN made the call. Someone drove up in a cherry red ’57 Buick Electra coupe with Elvis cushions in the back window. A speaker played Mr. Biden’s campaign song, Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own,” and the walk-on music from former President Bill Clinton’s winning campaign, “Don’t Stop (Thinking about Tomorrow).”
Pride in Mr. Biden is strong in this town. His great-great-great grandfather Edward Blewitt was born in Ballina and emigrated to Scranton, Pa., just after the great Irish famine of 1845 to 1849, according to historians.
Now, the town can boast that it has produced not one but two presidents. Mary Robinson, the global human rights campaigner who became Ireland’s first female head of state, was born a few hundred yards from Market Square, in a house by the salmon-rich River Moy. She won election on Nov. 7, 1990 — exactly 30 years before Mr. Biden’s victory.
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