THE STAGE LINE-UP for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of former US president John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland has been announced today in New Ross, Co Wexford.
Taking the role of MC and host of ‘The Homecoming’ on the afternoon of 22 June, will be Wexford woman and former RTÉ newsreader Anne Doyle. Doyle will be joined by broadcaster George Hook and together they’ll introduce a lineup that includes award-winning author Colm Toibin, who will recite from stage, and tenor Michael Londra.
Londra has written especially for the event as he said the former US president represented the ‘American Dream’ for him.
“I was born a few years after JFK visited but my earliest memories of Wexford are that no matter where I went, in every house, there was a picture of him on every parlor wall, usually with Bobby and Pope John XXIII,” he said.
Celebrations will start at 3pm with an all-American style homecoming parade weaviing its way through the streets, followed by the arrival of Taoiseach Enda Kenny with a guard of honour from the Irish Naval Service.
Lord of the dance Michael Flatley, who has family ties near New Ross, will hit the stage to narrate the journey and significance of the ‘Emigrant Flame’ before it is lit on the quayside to evoke the spirit of the Kennedys and the entire Irish emigrant family. The Taoiseach and guests of honour Caroline Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith will also take part in the lighting of the flame.
Other performers entertaining guests today will include singer and songwriter Judy Collins, percussion group Extreme Rythm and New Ross and District Pipe Band.
Following the stage performances the torch will be transferred along the boardwalk to the Emigrant Memorial and there the Emigrant Flame will be set alight on the quayside to burn forever to remember all Irish emigrants.
Ask not what your county can do for you
Commenting today, Chair of JFK50, which has organised the event, called for people to “be part of history and celebrate with some of Wexford’s best”.
“We hope that people from near and far will come along and enjoy the festivities and the celebrations in memory of President Kennedy,” he said. “It is now time to ask not what your county can do for you but what you can do for your county.”
For visitors unable to attend the celebratory events on 22 June a brand new Emigrant Trail telling the Kennedy story will be on offer, allowing visitors to follow in the footsteps of President Kennedy’s historic visit of 1963. ‘The Emigrant Trail’ features three key heritage sites on a 15-mile trail in the vicinity of New Ross Town in county Wexford. Further details of the events taking place throughout the year can be found on the JFK50 website.