VP Nominee Tim Kaine is draped in Irish heritage

Ed Forry

By Ed Forry, Publisher

As the 2016 election season heats, the new media global village has captured the imagination of our ethnic cousins throughout the island of Ireland, and TV news is the messenger.

Recent Boston tourists in Ireland were surprised to discover Irish viewers glued to their tellys, watching the GOP convention on satellite channels CNN, SKY-TV, and BBC. Even Irish national broadcaster RTE had news crews in Cleveland, and later in Philadelphia, reporting the latest convention news. The major speeches were viewed in real time in living rooms all across the Emerald Isle.

And when the Trump crew finished its business in Ohio, and Hillary Clinton readied to reveal her choice for a VP running mate, the Irish media went over the top in reporting the nomination of Virginia’s US Senator Tim Kaine:

“Clinton picks Irish-American senator Tim Kaine as running mate,” was the headline in the Irish Times;

“Clinton chooses Irish-American with Longford links as her vice-president,” said the Irish Independent;

“Potential US Vice-President Tim Kaine is ‘honorary’ Cork man who ‘adopted’ Courtmacsherry as his own,” headlined the Evening Echo, adding, “The most likely candidate to become Vice-President of the United States has extensive Cork connections and is often spotted holidaying in Courtmacsherry.”
Tim KaineTim Kaine
The Echo reported that “Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, told the paper that it would be the ‘dream ticket for Ireland’ if the Clinton-Kaine duo won the vote for the White House in November… Family friend, Pádraig Fleming, from Courtmacsherry, was travelling to Philadelphia to see Mr. Kaine officially confirmed as Clinton’s running mate, saying there wouldn’t be a prouder Corkman in the world on the night. The vice presidential candidate has been a frequent visitor to Courtmacsherry in recent years, the West Cork haven that he calls his ‘adopted Irish village.’

“Pádraig and Mary Fleming met Mr. Kaine’s parents, Al and Kathleen, some 25 years ago and the families have been firm friends ever since. The Flemings are among the most highly regarded families in West Cork tourism with Anchor Bay Cottages known far and wide for its hospitality. As well as Al and Kathleen, it has meant frequent visits to Cork for  Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, since they first visited Ireland in 2006.”

The nominations at the two conventions virtually ensure that Joe Biden’s successor will be another Irish American. While Kaine is well known for his Catholic faith and ancestry in Longford and Kilkenny, less well-known is the fact that Michael Pence, a lapsed Catholic, was an altar boy whose grandfather emigrated from Sligo.

In a speech last year at the annual American Irish Fund banquet in Washington, Kaine said, “I am about as stone Irish as you can get for somebody whose family has been in the country for about 150 years. All four of my grandparents were born to Irish immigrants, three to families where both the mom and dad were from Ireland and one where the mom was Irish and the dad was Scotish born but moved to Northern Ireland before emigrating to the US.

“I am pure black-Irish. There is not a redheaded Norseman anywhere in our family but that makes this very special. Until I was 48 years old, Ireland played a huge and important part in my life, sort of in the dreams of my life, but I had never been to Ireland. So it was photos, and it was genealogy, and it was family stories, and Roman Catholicism, music and St Patrick’s Day - that is what being Irish meant to me, but I felt the deep connection to it.”

Kaine’s nomination was met with enthusiasm among Boston’s Irish. John Cullinane, a supporter of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s unsuccessful bid last year, said the choice was “outstanding. The irony,” added Cullinane, “is that he’s as close to Martin O’Malley as you can possibly get. The only difference that I can tell is that Tim Kaine speaks Spanish and plays the harmonica while Martin O’Malley plays the guitar.

“As you know, Diddy and I were strong supporters of Martin O’Malley, but we are equally enthusiastic about Tim Kaine. I am sure others will feel this way as they get to know him better. In a few words, he’s very smart, very experienced, very well educated, and a nice guy with a record of integrity.  

“I think Hillary Clinton has definitely enhanced the strength of the ticket and the future of the country with this selection,” said Cullinane.