Key Event dates for the JFK50
June 18th - The Journey
June 22nd - The Homecoming
November 22nd - The Remembering
JFK50 ‘Homecoming’ celebrations, New Ross Saturday, June 22
“I want to express my pleasure at being back from whence I came” President John F. Kennedy – June 27th 1963
New Ross town in county Wexford will raise the U.S. Flag high this mid-Summers eve as on June 22 ‘The Homecoming’ will see the town celebrate the life, memory and visit to Ireland of one its most famous sons President John F. Kennedy during the JFK50 Ireland.
Visitors are in for a treat as the stage line-up for the celebrations in New Ross on June 22 features former RTE Newsreader and Wexford ambassador Anne Doyle, award winning author and Wexford ambassador Colm Toibin, Newstalk presenter and Kennedy fan George Hook, international singer and Wexford ambassador Michael Londra, world-renowned dancer, musician and performer Michael Flatley who will take to the stage to narrate the journey and significance of the Emigrant Flame before it’s symbolic lighting on the quayside. American Grammy award winning singer and songwriter Judy Collins will also entertain visitors from the stage with some wonderful pieces from her vast songbook.
Performances in honour of JFK and the Kennedy Family
Extreme Rhythm, the most hightly acclaimed percussion group in Europe, led by Wexford Town man Nicky Bailey, will also perform in honour of JFK and the Kennedy Family. World pipe band champions, New Ross and District Pipe Band will also entertain visitors on. There will also be the odd surprise for our guests on the day. Local groups and performers will also entertain the public from the stage on the quayside in the afternoon prior to the start of the main event.
Join us from 3pm as an all American style Homecoming parade will weave it’s way through the streets of New Ross, finishing at the Quayside at 5pm. The Parade finish will be closely followed by the arrival of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. with a guard of honour from the Irish Naval Service.
Lighting of the Emigrant Flame
The official ceremony of the lighting of the Emigrant Flame will take place as An Taoiseach and guests of honour Caroline Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith will take part in the lighting of the flame. The torch will be taken ashore from the LE Orla Naval vessel and brought to the Kennedy Monument on the New Ross Quayside. Following the stage celebration performances the torch will be transferred along the boardwalk to the Emigrant Memorial and there the Emigrant Flame will be set alight on the Quayside to burn forever brightly to remember all Irish emigrants.
Earlier in the day An Taoiseach will have officially opened the re-developed Kennedy Homestead, and planted a tree at the soon to be re-named John F Kennedy Memorial Park.
For visitors unable to attend the celebratory events on June 22 a brand new Emigrant Trail telling the Kennedy story will be on offer, allowing visitors to follow in the footsteps of President Kennedy and historic visit of 1963. ‘The Emigrant Trail’ features three key heritage sites on a 15-mile trail in the vicinity of New Ross Town in county Wexford.
New Ross is the ancestral home of US President John F Kennedy. It was on the Quay of New Ross that his Great Grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, boarded a Famine Ship and commenced his journey for America.
President John F Kennedy received a rapturous welcome on an emotional visit to his ancestral home in New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland on 27th June, 1963.
President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963 was a pivitol moment in Irish history and is commemorated by a statue on the Quayside which was commissioned by New Ross Town Council and unveiled in 2008.
President Kennedy embodied the ultimate success story of the Irish emigrant family, from famine emigrant to the most powerful man in the world in three generations.
More than that, his visit and the inspiring speeches he delivered were to change forever how the Irish perceived themselves, particularly in relation to the emigrant experience and the Diaspora.
During his speech on the quayside he said;
“When my great-grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston he carried nothing with him except two things – a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his grandchildren have valued that inheritance...”