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JFK's 1963 Ireland visit marked with year of events

It has been 50 years since the late JFK visited Ireland – so his ancestral home of Wexford has unveiled a year of events to mark the historic occasion.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy meets with his Irish cousins in the barnyard of their mutual forefather's homestead, at Dunganstown, June 27, 1963.
U.S. President John F. Kennedy meets with his Irish cousins in the barnyard of their mutual forefather's homestead, at Dunganstown, June 27, 1963.
Image: AP Photo

THE 50-YEAR anniversary of the historic visit of President John F Kennedy to Ireland is to be celebrated with 12 months of events in Wexford.

The plans for a year of events to celebrate President Kennedy’s visit to New Ross, County Wexford were unveiled today at Government buildings by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD.

Wexford visit

Kennedy, or JFK as he was popularly known, was the 35th President of the United States of America and received a rapturous welcome on a visit to his ancestral homeland back in 1963.

Thousands of well wishers turned out for his arrival at New Ross town, which was from where Patrick Kennedy, his great-grandfather, had set sail for America back in 1848 during the potato famine.

In his speech at the quayside in New Ross the President told onlookers:

When my great-grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston he carried nothing with him except two things – a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his grandchildren have valued that inheritance.

From New Ross the President travelled four miles south to his ancestral homestead in Dunganstown, where he was reunited with his cousins.

He then went on to Wexford Town, where he laid a wreath at the statue of Wexfordman Commodore John Barry, who is known as the Father of the American Navy.

Watershed event

Unveiling the 2013 JFK 50 Programme of Events, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that the visit “was a watershed event in recent Irish history”.

It remains one of the most significant visits by a Head of State to Ireland and has had a lasting effect which resonated in the visit of President Obama and is recalled every year on our St Patrick’s Day visits to the States.

I have long been an admirer of President Kennedy and often recall words from his extraordinary speeches, like his address to the Irish Parliament almost 50 years ago when he described the qualities of the Irish as ‘a remarkable combination of hope, confidence and imagination – that is needed more than ever today’.

Chairman of New Ross Town Council, Councillor Paul Crowdle, said that New Ross remembers the visit of JFK “with great pride and fondness”.

Shaun Quinn CEO of Failte Ireland said that they are delighted to be working with the team behind JFK 50.

Events

Many major events will take place in New Ross during 2013 to mark the 50 year anniversary.

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This will include:

  • New Frontiers, which will see New Ross host the spring conference of the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland on February 15 and 16
  • The Homecoming will take place from June 21 to July 8, a national homecoming event where An Taoiseach will attend at New Ross to take part in the commemoration of the official visit of JFK
  • The Office of Public Works will construct a new €1.5m visitor centre at the Kennedy Homestead in Dunganstown, New Ross, which will open in 2013
  • The Kennedy Trail will be officially unveiled, linking New Ross Town including the Kennedy Monument, the Eternal Flame, the new Quayside development and the Dunbrody Famine Ship to the Kennedy Homestead at Dunganstown and the JFK Arboretum
  • A major celebration of Independence Day will take place from July 4 to July 8

In November of 2013, ‘The Remembering’ will take place. As part of this, a wreath will be laid at the Kennedy Statue in New Ross town to honour and remember the memory of John F Kennedy, and a mass will also be held as part of the day of remembrance on November 22.

The US President visited Ireland in June – he was assassinated just months later, on 22 November 1963, during a visit to Dallas, Texas.

As part of marking the 50 years since his death, the JFK 50 website has been set up, which contains archive footage, pictures and information on the late president and his legacy.

JFK's 1963 Ireland visit marked with year of events
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  • Dunganstown

  • Kennedy visit to Ireland

  • John Kennedy with Jacqueline Kennedy

  • Wexford - 1963

  • Wexford - 1963

  • Wexford - 1963

  • Wexford - 1963

  • Wexford - 1963

  • New Ross - 1963

  • President John F Kennedy with his cousin

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