THE nephew of President John F Kennedy has visited the family's ancestral home in Co Wexford.
More than 160 years after Patrick Kennedy left Ireland to seek a new life across the Atlantic, his namesake and descendant arrived back in the 'old country', looking forward to one of the highlights of The Gathering's schedule.
In tribute to the Kennedys in general – and the late President John F Kennedy in particular – a series of celebrations will take place next month in Co Wexford.
These will not only form part of The Gathering but will also mark 50 years since the president made his famous visit to the family homestead in Dunganstown, as well as nearby New Ross and other parts of Ireland, just months before his assassination.
Yesterday, his nephew Patrick, a former Congressman and son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, was in Dunganstown to thank all those who have kept the metaphorical flame burning in the intervening years. Ahead of next month's events, he launched a new website and brochure.
"It's a gathering not only for my family but a gathering for all Irish-Americans who still have an ancestral connection to the land that their forebears left to make off for a new life in the new world," he said.
"As the namesake of the man who left in the 1840s to make a new life in America, I'm honoured to be the Patrick Kennedy who comes back many generations later to pay tribute to those who stayed and those who left."
He described the Dunganstown homestead and new visitor centre, along with the nearby John F Kennedy Arboretum, as "a wonderful memorial" to his family and also to "the story that my family represented in terms of the Irish who left to come to America".
Among those present yesterday was Patrick Grennan, third cousin of John F Kennedy and curator of the exhibition at the new homestead visitor centre, which is beside the home where he now lives with his family.
The visitor centre will be opened by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Saturday, June 22. A number of events that night in New Ross will also be attended by President Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, and his sister, Jean Kennedy Smith.