JFK flame burns bright for ever in Irish homelandALL NEWS RELEASES

8 May 2013The revered bonds between President John F Kennedy and Ireland are to be remembered and rekindled with the lighting of a special Emigrants Flame at a ceremony in the port his great-grandfather emigrated from in 1845.

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JFK Arboretum

The Dunbrody Famine Ship is part of the Kennedy Trail in County Wexford. It features a large database of records of Irish, English, Scottish, and Welsh immigrants arriving at the main US ports

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Dunbrody Famine Ship

The Dunbrody Famine Ship is part of the Kennedy Trail in County Wexford. It features a large database of records of Irish, English, Scottish, and Welsh immigrants arriving at the main US ports

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In an immense symbol to the worldwide Irish diaspora in Ireland’s year of the Gathering, President Kennedy’s only surviving child, Caroline, will lead a reunion of the extended Kennedy family to an Irish-American Homecoming for the ceremony on 22 June at New Ross, County Wexford.

The event will also mark the 50th anniversary of JFK’s celebrated 1963 visit to his ancestral homeland.

The Kennedy family will join with the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Enda Kenny, in lighting the Emigrants Flame at the quayside next to the Dunbrody Famine Ship berthed in New Ross, where JFK spoke to the crowds during his only visit home.

The Emigrants Flame will be lit from the Eternal Flame at President Kennedy’s graveside in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia on 29 May (his birthday) and transported via a special Gathering Torch to the County Wexford town in time for the Homecoming – the emigrant journey in reverse.

Michael Flatley of Riverdance fame, who also has family ties in the area, will narrate the journey and significance of the Emigrants Flame at the ceremony before its symbolic lighting, which will evoke the spirit and inspiration of the Kennedys and the entire Irish emigrant family.

As part of the occasion an American-style homecoming parade celebrating the emigrant story – a central theme of The Gathering call for the Irish to connect with the homeland in 2013 – will weave through the streets of New Ross.

A Kennedy Trial will be also unveiled. Its starting point will be the Emigrants Flame and it also includes a new development linking the JFK statue on the New Ross quayside with the Dunbrody Famine Ship and nearby JFK Arboretum and upgraded Kennedy Homestead in Dunganstown.

In the summer of 1963 the 35th President of the United States made an emotional return to this family homestead to meet his cousins. It is still farmed by his descendants today and has changed little since Famine times.

However it now incorporates a state-of-the-art visitor centre that uses a mixture of media and a rich supply of material to trace the story of Patrick Kennedy leaving Ireland as a Famine emigrant, to his great-grandchildren returning as US President (John F.), US Ambassador (Jean), founder of the Special Olympics (Eunice), Attorney General (Bobby) and US Senator (Edward).

The rosary beads and dog tags – donated by Jacqueline Kennedy – that were on the President’s person the day he died are among the items on display.

The Dunbrody Famine Ship is also open to visitors and features a large database of records of Irish, English, Scottish, and Welsh immigrants arriving at the main US ports, alongside a world-class interpretation of the famine emigrant experience incorporating guided tours, costumed performers and themed exhibitions of the highest quality.

The JFK Arboretum is a peaceful garden containing over 500 different rhododendron and azaleas, an internationally important collection of over 4,000 different trees and shrubs and a small islet-studded lake. The Kennedys will take part in a tree planting ceremony there as part of their homecoming visit.

Many other JFK50 events are being commemorated and marked around the world, and New Ross is taking a leading part.

The town will also hold the Kennedy Summer School (12-15 September), a festival of Irish-American history, culture and politics, as well as The Remembering , a memorial event on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination (22 November).

It will celebrate JFK’s life, and commemorate his tragic death with a remembrance Mass, followed by a parade to the quayside and a wreath laying ceremony which will include the performance of a specially commissioned lament to the late President.

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