Saturday 16 December 2017

Star-spangled banners raised in joy as Ireland joins the party for 4th of July

Saoirse Ni hEochaidh (5)
Saoirse Ni hEochaidh (5)
Former US ambassador Dan Rooney
Kim Clancy, wife of Liam, and actress Fionnuala Flanagan at the Dunbrody ship, New Ross

Eimear Ni Bhraonain and Edel O'Connell

THE stars and stripes were raised for the country's first official 4th of July festival in John F Kennedy's ancestral home yesterday.

The quays in New Ross, Co Wexford was once where heartbroken families bid farewell to loved ones who got the boat to America -- but their journeys were celebrated yesterday.

One of the most famous connections to the seaside town comes from the Kennedy clan, as Patrick Kennedy and Bridget Murphy, JFK's grandparents, emigrated from there to the USA.

And yesterday was a flashback in time as there were re-enactments of the Boston Tea Party aboard the famous Dunbrody Famine Ship.

The Declaration of Independence was read out at midday, while crowds cheered from the sidelines at Hook Lighthouse later for an American Football game.

Classic cars, line dancers and singers also took to the streets and the first ever open-air concert was held at the JFK Aboretum featuring The Three Tenors and Declan O'Rourke.

The highlight , however, was when legendary actress Fionnula Flanagan was inducted, along with legendary musician Liam Clancy -- posthumously -- at the Irish-American Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, skydivers draped in the stars and stripes dropped down onto an American football pitch at the US ambassador's residence in Dublin's Phoenix Park yesterday to mark the occasion.


More than 2,500 people gathered at the event, hosted by US ambassador Dan Rooney.

There were lots of traditional American fare, including hotdogs, hamburgers and red and white cupcakes on the menu for the guests, who included Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Joan Burton.

The Phoenix Pirates, coached by Eddie Goggins, and the Dublin 8s, coached by the ambassador's son, who is also named Dan, fought it out in the third Irish American Flag Football classic -- a non-contact version of American football.

An American football field featuring bleachers, American football posts and giant TV screens for live coverage, was constructed for the event, which was won by the Dublin 8s.

Speaking at the event, Mr Rooney said that US investors were keeping faith with the Irish people and the country's future.

"I have travelled all over Ireland and visited every county. US confidence in Ireland's economy has never wavered and our investment in Ireland's future remains strong," Mr Rooney revealed yesterday.

Irish Independent

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