JFK visit to Ireland commemorated

Taoiseach Enda Kenny marks friendships between Ireland and US on 50th anniversary of JFK visit

Taoiseach Enda Kenny marked the friendships between Ireland and the US in an address marking the 50th anniversary of the visit here by US president John F Kennedy.

Speaking at the Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown, Co Wexford, Mr Kenny recalled the young president’s “faith and confidence in an ancient nation, a young Republic”.

‘That our future is as promising as our past is proud.... that our destiny lies not as a peaceful island in a sea of troubles.... but as a maker and shaper of world peace’.”

Mr Kenny welcomed guests and said they were particularly honoured to have among them John F Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy.

“Just this week, world leaders have been meeting on this island to discuss such making and shaping. President Kennedy’s preoccupations - hunger, malnutrition, war, peace- remain priorities today,” Mr Kenny said.

Ireland had used its presidency of the European Union to do just that, he said.

“At our direction the EU will accelerate its efforts to tackle maternal and child under-nutrition, stunting and wasting, and to boost financial support to partner countries.”

The Kennedy family homecoming road show rolled into New Ross today for a series of events that promised to be memorable for locals and visitors alike.

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the visit to the Wexford town by President John F Kennedy in 1963, today’s visit by his only surviving child, Caroline Kennedy-Schlossberg, her husband Edwin, and their three children Rose, Tatiana and Jack, and Ms Kennedy’s cousin, Sydney Lawford and her husband Peter, ceremonies will be attended also by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, minister of state for public works Brian Hayes.

There were several highlights on the agenda.

At 2pm the Taoiseach arrived at the Kennedy family homestead in Dunganstown for the official opening of the impressive Kennedy Homestead Visitor Centre.

It tells the story of JFK’s 1963 visit and the wider story of the Kennedy family’s roots in New Ross, Patrick Kennedy’s exit from the area in the 1840s, the family he established in Boston and its extraordinary history in the United States.

There was later a parade in New Ross while simultaneously, the VIPs were at the Kennedy Arboretum for a re-dedication and tree planting cemerony.

The highlight of the day in New Ross was the arrival at the quayside this evening of a flame, lit on Tuesday at the eternal flame on the assassinated president's grave in Arlington Cemetery in Virginia.

It was disembarked from the LE Orla by JFK's sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, former US ambassador to Ireland, and given to Mr Kenny.

He in turn presented it to a group of special Olympians who carried it to a new feature in front of the Dunbrody famine ship and visitor centre, a replica vessel to the ship of the same name on which Patrick Kennedy left Ireland for Liverpool and ultimately the New World in the 1840.

The special Olympians used it to light New Ross’s very own Kennedy eternal flame.

The quayside events were hosted by former RTE journalist Anne Doyle and rugby commentator George Hook.

Members of the Kennedy family also addressed the gathering and it was drawn to a close with a performance of Amazing Grace by Judy Collins .