US vice president Joe Biden takes in golf and some apple pie in west of Ireland

Taoiseach Enda Kenny basks in glory as he shows VP around his Mayo

Psst! Here's a secret: US vice-president Joe Biden and Taoiseach Enda Kenny scored a draw in a game of golf in Co Mayo.

If you are member of Castlebar golf club, or even a member of the public who dropped in to watch the action on Thursday morning, you may have witnessed this most diplomatic of outcomes.

The finer detail - the match finishing all-square after the 18th hole - was neither confirmed nor denied by officials. US presidential media handlers had already escorted the press out of the club at that point with a polite series of smiles.

Playing with Mr Biden in the foursome were his brother Jim, the golf club captain Frank Murray and Mr Kenny, whose family home is just across from the 13th hole.


Mr Kenny tends to be far more comfortable on a racing bike saddle, or with a backpack out on a high hill. But he had foregone lycra and goretex for the sake of the state, and his Mayo seat perhaps, by sporting a salmon pink polo shirt with cream chinos.

When asked how the game was going, Mr Biden had replied: “It’s going. Fortunately politics is going better.”

After the press expulsion, the many Deep Throats with Mayo accents were able to confirm not only the outcome of the game but that the US vice-president planted a mountain ash tree. He had also enjoyed tea and two helpings of apple pie made by club member Pauline Donahue.

The North Korean-style control of the media was a hallmark of Vice-President Biden’s two-day visit to the west, with the public having far more access to the visiting party than anyone with the misfortune to be wearing a press pass.

Then there is said to be no love lost between Mr Biden and the media since he took issue with New York Times journalist Maureen Dowd's report last year that one of his dying son Beau's last wishes was that his father should run for the White House.

According to Dowd,who stood by her account, 46-year-old Beau had felt that the Democrat-voting public would prefer Biden, rather than Clinton, values.

If the reception among the non-Democrat voting public in Mayo was anything go by, Mr Biden would have had a clear run to the nomination - and to a seat in his great-great-great grandfather Edward’s home constituency of Mayo.

Mr Biden did fulfil another promise to his son to trace his family's Irish roots, meeting the Blewitts and relatives in Mayo, and inviting Brendan and Michael Blewitt, their sister Breege Bourke and extended family back to the US.

The Finnegans on his mother’s side will be tracked over the weekend in Co Louth.

Mr Kenny, who was Mr Biden's Mayo escort, along with dozens of US security and gardai, was able to bask in the reflected glory - one of the highlights being a session with The Chieftains in Matt Molloy's pub in Westport on Wednesday night.

The Taoiseach led a rendition of "Olé, Olé, Olé" after Ireland beat Italy in Euro 2016.

Fine Gael councillor Gerry Coyle said that Mr Kenny's performance all round made him proud to be a Mayo man. His only regret was that those who knew their game would have recognised that Carne golf club in the Coyle home town of Belmullet was the real "Augusta" of the west.

Mr Biden travelled to Dublin on Thursday evening, and is due to speak at Trinity College, Dublin and Dublin Castle, and at the American Ireland Fund 40th anniversary gala.

He and his family visit Co Louth, including Newgrange, on Saturday before flying home on Sunday.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times