THE IRISH DEFENCE Forces are arriving back in Dublin today with a flame taken from the eternal flame at the grave of John F Kennedy in Arlington Cemetery in Washington earlier this week.
The flame is to be used to light the so-called emigrant flame in New Ross in a special ceremony on Saturday and marks the first time since Kennedy’s death in November 1963 that the Kennedy family have allowed a flame to be taken from the grave.
Government chief whip Paul Kehoe and a ‘colour party’ from the Defence Forces took the flame at a ceremony in Washington on Tuesday with Congressman Joe Kennedy III (below) also in attendance.
The plan now is for the flame to be passed by the Defence Forces to the Naval Service at a ceremony in Dublin Airport this morning.
It will then be transported to New Ross in Wexford on board the LE Orla before being used by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, JFK’s daughter Caroline Kennedy and former US ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy-Smith to light the emigrant flame in a special ceremony on the 22 June.
Speaking in Washington earlier this week, Kehoe said: “The fact that over 30 members of the Kennedy family are travelling from the US to Ireland to be part of the JFK 50 events, proves beyond doubt that the close ties that this most famous of Irish emigrant families has with the land of their ancestors is as true today as it was in 1963.”
Pictures: Bill Auth