The swearing in of Joe Biden as President of the United States was remarkable. He was the most Irish President sworn in since John F. Kennedy and accepted the oath of office at precisely 11:48 a.m. with a promise to defend and protect the constitution of the country. The inauguration is a time honored ceremony, but this year’s inauguration was certainly much different than any inauguration from the past. What is the same is the connection this President and recent past Presidents have with Ireland.
Before the pandemic hit, visitors touring Moneygall, Ireland, learned that the tiny village was once home to Obama’s great-great-great grandfather who came from Moneygall. Biden’s heritage traces back to the Blewitts of county Mayo and the Finnegans from County Louth. John F.Kennedy was related to the Fitzgerald Family who emigrated to the US from County Limerick. What connects all three men besides their common Irish heritage, is that they were and are Democrats.
But not all Irish are Democrats. Far from it. Nixon discovered his Irish roots leading up to his successful campaign against Hubert Humphrey. He is on tape demeaning the Irish, along with Jews, and just about every nationality you can think of, all the while unaware that his wife Pat was half Irish herself. Reagan and the Bush’s were Irish, and 17 other Presidents have Irish roots, a total of 23 Presidents in all, or 50% of the Presidents to ever hold the office. The Irish vote has grown to be important and that the Irish have such an outsized influence and representation in terms of their percentage of the population, for the highest office in the land, just seems a little bizarre for such a tiny country. There are also thousands of positions held by politicians of Irish descent at every level of government downstream. Members of both parties. Some, probably poets!
The infamous “Tip” O’Neil was not the first Irish American politician, but he was certainly one of the more colorful, and going back further, Abraham Lincoln had an Irish connection through his alliance with Democrat Thomas Meagher, the “Immortal Irishman” and an unheralded influence of magnificent proportion. Meagher was an orator on par with the likes of Williams Jennings Bryant, the 19th century’s version of John F. Kennedy in terms of his oratory power, and himself of Irish descent. He helped Lincoln raise critical volunteers who then enlisted to join the U.S. army and fight on the side of the Union during the civil war. He later became the first governor of Montana. The Irish brigade of NY played a crucial role in the North’s winning of the war, and because there were brigades on both sides of the frontline, men from Ireland fought and died for the south and for the north, which accounts in part for the Irish’s absurd casualty rates according to Timothy Egan, who explains in his book, The Immortal Irishman, that the Irish suffered more losses than any other ethnicity on the battle field.
There is so much to celebrate about an incoming administration tempered by loss and willing to hit the reset button. Perhaps most significant is that the country has experienced a peaceful transfer of power despite the insurrection and the unfounded fear of aftershocks. But what I am most grateful for is that the time of the swearing in was adjusted. When President Biden placed his hand on the family’s 127 year old Bible, the time of the chart moved from 12:00 P.M. to 11:48 A.M. As a result Pluto also moved from the 9th House to the 10th House.
I am thankful because Pluto behaves much better in the 10th House where it can be more productive. There is a little known sacred construct with Pluto in Capricorn. Pluto is extremely powerful here and “oriental,” which is a position of prominence. Simply, the oriental planet is the first planet rising before the Sun. From a global standpoint there is a mass reorganization underway. Pluto here perhaps represents the most significant transformation in 90 years. At the same time, Pluto also rules the 7th House, which of course is the infamous House of “open enemies,” and war. But the 7th House is also about international relations. Foreign trade is indicated, and the public reaction to the state is in focus. Like any new birth, none of this mean things won’t get messy. They will! But in my opinion there is a positive consolidation of power indicated. Pluto is the highest planet in the chart, and in Capricorn, “The Mountain.” It is the position of the “The Hill We Climb.” As an American, I am stuck by this empowering anthem, amplified by a young black woman with an Irish surname, Gorman, a name that connects somehow to the patrons of 15th century Gaelic poets. Pluto here connects us to history (Capricorn), our past, and to what we inherit (Pluto), and “how we repair it.” Pluto is the great rehabilitator. So, I am grateful for Amanda Gorman’s voice and for the words of Seamus Heaney that Joe Biden shared with us: “History says don’t hope on this side of the grave.” Perhaps it is indeed our time, “when hope and history rhyme.”
We have so much to do. And so little time. Let’s go ahead and begin it, though fate may shorten the ride. We may never truly know who it is that decides, but we must know we did our best to win it before we up and die. Each word a poem, each poem a prayer. And how we repair it is by applying the greatest poem ever written. That poem in a word is Truth!
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