Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
John Hand & Louise Burne

Joe Biden reduced to tears after surprise Mayo meeting with priest who gave last rites to son Beau

US President Joe Biden broke down in tears yesterday at Knock Shrine after he met the priest who gave his late son the last rites.

Ex-US Army chaplain Fr Frank O’Grady, who tended to tragic Beau when he was a patient at Walter Reid military hospital in Washington in 2015, spoke to Mr Biden and his other son Hunter.

Speaking afterwards, local priest Fr Richard Gibbons explained: “He laughed, he cried – it just kind of hit the man.

READ MORE - IRA man Shane Rowan 'doesn't care' about Gerry Hutch verdict and says no one will work with gang again

“You could just see how deeply it all felt and meant to him. He spoke about his family and his connection with his faith, and also about his son Beau who died.

“And it just so happened, and this was kind of spontaneous, it just so happened that we have, working at the shrine here, the chaplain who gives the last rites of the last anointing to his son in the United States.

“Just extraordinary, and I didn’t even know that, I didn’t know that until the president arrived.

“I told the president that because I would have lined up the priests to meet him, so he wanted to meet him straightaway.”

Earlier, Mr Biden declared “it’s good to be back” when he touched down for the final leg of his four-day visit.

Flying from Dublin Airport on the second, smaller Air Force One plane, Biden arrived at Knock Airport along with Hunter and sister Valerie.

Leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan shook the President’s hand and spoke for a few moments, as did Mayo TDs Dara Calleary and Michael Ring.

Speaking afterwards, Transport Minister Mr Ryan hailed the special guest for his comments on climate change.

He said: “I said we are working with the US government as we take over the chair of the International Energy Agency.” Mr Calleary added: “He’s really buzzed up about coming to Ballina.

“We were chatting about that and it was a very relaxed chat. He’s thrilled to be here.

“He’s very invested in this trip. This is his third time in six years [visiting Ireland].

“This is not somebody coming looking for his roots. He knows his roots, he understands his roots and he understands the importance of those roots.” Mr Biden was then whisked away to Knock Shrine around 20 minutes away arriving at 2.20pm – an hour behind schedule.

Met by Fr Gibbons, Biden toured the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock.

Inside the basilica, the president was seen laughing and joking with Fr Gibbons and he also took a good look at the artwork in place.

He touched the apparition wall before he was brought into the Apparition Chapel for some moments of quiet reflection and a prayer.

While in the chapel, it was where he met with Fr O’Grady. The Knock Shrine – where locals claimed to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1879 – has been visited by numerous Popes most recently Francis in 2018.

Fr Gibbons added: “It was an extraordinary afternoon. I won’t forget it. It was quite something else.”

Crowds gathered once more along the streets outside the Knock Shrine, waving Mayo, Ireland and US flags.

From there, he travelled to the Mayo Roscommon hospice foundation.

Mr Biden turned the sod on the site for the new hospice complex in 2017 when he was Vice President during what he later described as “a deeply moving experience”.

Beau died of brain cancer in 2015, aged just 46. When the hospice opened in 2021, Mr Biden sent a video message saying that he was sorry he could not be there.

He previously told how it held “a special place in my heart.”

And he said: “As many of you know, my family travelled to Ireland in 2016. We felt so much love and it was also bittersweet since it was a trip that I had hoped to share with our son Beau, to come together and touch the soil of our Irish roots and our family’s history and heritage. The fact it’s Beau’s name and memory woven into the tapestry of this hospice is something my family and I and his children, in particular, will never ever forget.”


Get news updates direct to your inbox by signing up to our daily newsletter here

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.