Friday 28 April 2017

Kennedys gather to honour Ted

Peace award for late US senator

Conor Kane

IT was another honour for the US senator who bore "the map of Ireland on his face, the Irish Sea in his blood and the songs of Erin in his heart".

Ted Kennedy's widow Victoria addressed the crowd of Kennedys who had gathered for the presentation of the Tipperary International Peace Award to the late senator, and to former US ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith.

Victoria said the award was meaningful because of her husband's lifelong work for peace, but also because it was presented "here in Ireland".

There were smiles and tears as the largest ever Irish gathering of the venerated Kennedy clan witnessed the awarding of the prize to two of their most loved.

Thirteen members of the family travelled to Tipperary for the ceremony, which was also witnessed by former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Albert Reynolds, current ministers Martin Mansergh and Peter Power, veteran Hollywood actress Maureen O'Hara, MEPs Sean Kelly and Alan Kelly and historian and writer Tim Pat Coogan.

Among the Kennedys present were Jean Kennedy Smith and her son William, Ted Kennedy's widow Victoria, their daughter Cara and Victoria's daughter Caroline, and Sumner Hood (5), the youngest member of the clan.

Afterwards they journeyed to the Kennedy homestead at Dunganstown, outside New Ross in Co Wexford.

Yesterday they were in Dublin for a number of engagements, including a meeting with US ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney.

Others at the ceremony at the Ballykisteen Hotel and Golf Club outside Tipperary town on Saturday included the ambassadors from Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Hungary, Kenya, Latvia, the Philippines and South Africa as well as representatives of the embassies of the US, Lesotho, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Cherished

President Mary McAleese sent a message in which she said that, with the death of Senator Kennedy, Ireland lost "a dear and cherished friend" who fought all his life for peace around the world.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen also sent a message, describing the prize recipients' work for peace as "tireless".

Tipperary Peace Convention Chairman Martin Quinn said many people would have thought of Ted Kennedy last week with the publication of the report of the Saville Inquiry.

"He supported the families of the victims of Bloody Sunday and I've no doubt but that he would have greatly welcomed the report's findings that affirmed the innocence of the 14 innocent people who were murdered on that fateful day," he said.

Before the formalities, Albert Reynolds said that the Northern Ireland peace process couldn't have proceeded without Jean Kennedy Smith.

"Without her we wouldn't have got Ted Kennedy in place and I don't think it would have been the success it was."

Jean Kennedy Smith said that the visit to Ireland she remembered best was with her brother, US president John F Kennedy, in 1963.

"He was so touched by the wonderful welcome he received and the outpouring of affection it inspired."

Previous winners of the Tipperary International Peace Award include Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Clinton, Gordon Wilson and George Mitchell.

Irish Independent

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