Visitor centre to be built at Kennedy ancestral home


A VISITOR and exhibition centre is to be developed at the Kennedy ancestral home in Dunganstown, near New Ross, Co Wexford.

It is hoped the new centre, for which a planning application has been lodged with Wexford County Council, will be completed by next year, the 50th anniversary of the visit to the homestead by late US president John F Kennedy.

The original Kennedy homestead is still in the hands of Kennedy family descendants. Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Brian Hayes, said yesterday he wanted to acknowledge work done in recent years by the current generation, Patrick and Siobhán Grennan, “in maintaining the memory of the historic beginnings and facilitating access and presentation for visitors”.

Mr Hayes said: “Given the importance of the homestead as a historic site and tourism attraction, the provision of modern visitor facilities is badly needed, and in consultation with the property owners a design scheme has been completed.”

Talks on necessary legal agreements are at an advanced stage and Mr Hayes said that subject to a satisfactory conclusion final technical details would be completed and tenders for the work invited in the near future.

New facilities at the homestead, in addition to the new exhibition area, are to include refurbishment of the existing out-buildings, and a reception and toilets. The work will include improvements to a car and tour-bus park, roadways, and signage.

Speaking at the announcement in the Dunbrody Visitor Centre in New Ross, Mr Hayes said as St Patrick’s Day approaches “much international focus will be trained on Ireland, and great goodwill generated. What better way to promote tourism than to stimulate, in particular, the vast market in the USA where the Kennedy legacy is so revered?” he asked.

He said the Dunbrody centre was a fitting place to address the theme of historic emigration “and the achievement of Irishmen and women who started new lives abroad and rose to pinnacles of achievement. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest names in this respect is president John F Kennedy, whose great-grandfather left New Ross for the US in 1848.”