Town bids for Obama to mark JFK visit

US PRESIDENT TO GET FORMAL INVITE FOR 50TH CELEBRATIONS

ELAINE FURLONG

Published 27/11/2012 | 10:15

Presidents John F Kennedy during his visit to New Ross back in 1963 and the current US President Barack Obama.

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama is to be invited to New Ross next year as part of the town's celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the visit of President John F Kennedy to his ancestral hometown.

In launching the year-long celebrations on Saturday, Cllr Michael Sheehan, chairman of the JFK50 committee, said New Ross Town Council is to extend an invite to President Obama to visit New Ross while he is in Ireland for the G8 Summit in Co. Fermanagh.

'Fifty years ago, if that town council did it why can't we?' said Cllr Sheehan.

The council hopes to meet US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton when she is in Ireland in December to outline their JFK50 plans and to suggest the possibility of Mr Obama visiting Ross.

'I'm optimistic that we will get a positive response,' added Cllr. Michael Sheehan. US PRESIDENT Barack Obama is to be invited to New Ross next year.

As part of the town's celebrations next year to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the visit of President John F. Kennedy to New Ross, New Ross Town Council are to extend an invite to President Obama to visit the ancestral hometown of JFK while he is in Ireland for the G8 summit in Co. Fermanagh.

'Fifty years ago, if that town council did it why can't we,' said the Chairperson of the JFK50 commemorations Cllr. Michael Sheehan.

The council are hoping to meet with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton when she is in Ireland in December to outline their yearlong JFK50 celebration plans, to suggest the possibility of inviting President Barack Obama to New Ross and to ask for her help with their endeavors.

'I'm optimistic that we will get a positive response,' said Cllr. Sheehan.

Plans for the 2013 celebrations were revealed to guests who gathered in the Tholsel on Saturday for the local launch of JFK50.

' This will introduce New Ross and JFK to a whole new generation of people, not just from Ireland but from all over the world,' said Cllr. Sheehan. ' There will be something for everyone - for all people - not just the powerful'.

The yearlong celebrations are anticipated to attract up to 5,000 people to New Ross. 'It will be a fantastic year for all people of the town,' added Cllr. Sheehan.

One of the first events for JFK50, will see The Gathering Torch ignited from the JFK Eternal Flame at Arlingon Cemetery on May 29.

Days later, from May 31 to June 2, the Kennedy Legacy Forum, a partnership between New Ross Town Council and Boston College aimed at promoting the ideals and legacy of the Kennedys through educational initiatives, will take place. One of the key events is The Homecoming on June 22, which commemorates the 1963 visit of JFK to New Ross.

The day will begin with a homecoming parade, a community based street theatre performance celebrating the emigrants' story, which will wind its way around the town to the quayside where An Taoiseach Enda Kenny will officially open the New Ross quayside redevelopment and unveil the Kennedy Trail. The starting point of this trail will be the lighting of the Emigrants Flame concluding the journey of the Gathering Torch to New Ross.

Referring to this significant event Cathaoirleach Paul Crowdle recalled how in June 1963 JFK returned to the nation of his forebearers and ignited the spirit of the nation. 'Next year the town will realise JFK's dream of returning to New Ross by bringing an eternal flame to New Ross,' he stated.

Minister Brendan Howlin said this flame is a 'symbol of hope and a beacon of pride, to burn eternally' on the new quayside.

Also, taking place on June 22, will be the official opening of the Kennedy Homestead Visitor Centre at Dunganstown and a tree planting ceremony in remembrance of the JFK visit at the JFK Arboretum. Next year the town will again celebrate Irish America Day on July 4th and during that month a programme of civil and political science for young people will take place in the form of the Kennedy Leadership Programme and the awarding of the Kennedy Leadership medal. From September 12 to 15 there will be an international festival of Irish and American culture, history and politics. One of the concluding events will take place on November 22 when a wreath laying ceremony and Mass will be celebrated in remembrance of John F. Kennedy.

' This will be a year of celebration of not only the Kennedy Family, but a year of celebration of the spirit of New Ross, of which the Kennedys are a representation,' said Minister Brendan Howlin on Saturday.

The day's launch concluded with the 'posting' of a specially created post card inviting people home to New Ross to join in the town's Gathering Celebrations.

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