Saturday 23 September 2017

Kennedy flame to light the way home on anniversary of his historic visit

Louise Hogan and Kathryn Hayes

A SPARK lit at the 'Eternal Flame' at the graveside of former US President John F Kennedy will be whisked to Ireland to mark the 50th anniversary of his historic visit.

The flame lit at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, will be used to light the 'Emigrant Flame' at a ceremony in New Ross, Co Wexford, on Saturday.

It is the first time both the US military and the Kennedy family have allowed a flame to be taken from the 'Eternal Flame' on his grave.

Thousands of people are expected to turn out as Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the late Mr Kennedy's daughter Caroline Kennedy and his sister, former ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, light the memorial in New Ross on Saturday to mark his visit in 1963.

The flame will be flown across the Atlantic to the Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, Co Dublin, before it is transferred to the Irish Navy vessel LE Orla to travel by sea to New Ross.

Government chief whip Paul Kehoe said the lighting of the flame marks a "journey home", with the New Ross one symbolising all emigrants, including JFK's great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy, who left Wexford in 1848.

New Ross Town Council chairman Paul Crowdle
New Ross Town Council chairman Paul Crowdle

"The flame is a symbol of tragedy, but also of hope and what feelings could be more appropriate for the emigration story," he said.

And 50 years after Mr Kennedy visited Limerick, Caroline Kennedy will this week return to the mid-west to trace her father's links and visit her ancestral family home.

Ms Kennedy, along with her husband Edwin Schlossberg, their three children and other members of the extended Kennedy family including her cousin Sydney Lawford, will visit the historic town of Bruff on Friday.

For more details about events linked to the commemorative occasion, log on to www.jfk50ireland.com.

Irish Independent

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