This week marks the 50th anniversary of President John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963. To commemorate the visit, up to thirty members of the Kennedy family, including his sister Jean Kennedy Smith, his daughter Caroline, her daughter Tatiana, her son Jack Schlossberg, the only grandson of the late President, will travel to New Ross, the ancestral Kennedy homestead. There, this Saturday, they will light a flame to commemorate John F Kennedy’s visit. The flame is going to be placed on the Quays in New Ross, where President Kennedy gave a speech in 1963. In his speech the President talked of emigration, of his own family’s story and of his delight at being back in Ireland, “I want to express my pleasure at being back from whence I came…” Caroline Kennedy with her husband and three children then plan on visiting Bruff in Co. Limerick on Friday 28th, where she will view the Church records of the Fitzgerald family and the site of the old Fitzgerald homestead on the Palatine Road. President Kennedy’s great-grandfather Thomas Fitzgerald left Bruff in 1852 for Boston taking with him the family Bible which was later used by JFK when taking his oath of Office in 1961. Caroline will be following in the footsteps of the Tar Abhaile team – Julie Evans, Mary Cogan, Evelyn O’Rourke and myself who were filming in the very same Church in April following the emigrant path of Bridget Ryan from Bruff who also left Ireland during the Famine, in Bridget’s case to Australia.
This week we had not one but two American President’s visit Ireland. For probably the first time in history, there were two US Presidents on Irish soil at the same time on the same day. On 17th, while President Barack Obama was arriving in Belfast ahead of the G8 Summit , which was held at the Lough Erne resort in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, former US President Bill Clinton was walking around the shops on a stop over at Shannon Airport.