JFK50 Events in New Ross, Co. Wexford: Remembering when Kennedy Came

When John F. Kennedy toured Ireland in 1963 he left a lasting impression. Nowhere more so, it seems, than in his ancestral homeland in New Ross, Co. Wexford, where his speech from the Quayside is still fondly remembered. In this, the year of The Gathering, New Ross is also giving Kennedy “The Homecoming,” taking fire from the Eternal Flame at his Arlington gravesite across the Atlantic and using it to ignite the Emigrant Flame on New Ross’s quayside, located just outside the Irish America Hall of Fame. It is a symbolic gesture of diasporic return, the homecoming of Ireland’s sons and daughters, and a very real acknowledgement of the recent rejuvenation of New Ross’s quayside, which will be officially opened after the ignition of the flame on June 22.

There are many events scheduled to mark the occasion of Kennedy’s visit 50 years ago. They begin at Arlington and end in Wexford, extend from May to November. So if you’re planning a trip to Ireland over the summer, it’s worth looking into heading to Wexford; and if it’s anything like the last time Kennedy came, none of these events will soon be forgotten.


Temporary JFK50 Museum

Open Now

Bailey’s Shop, 59 South Street, New Ross

Photo Mary Browne. A bust of President John F Kennedy from 1963, one of the items donated for the Tidy Towns "Community Museum" which will be opened in New Ross as part of the JFK50.

Photo Mary Browne. A bust of President John F Kennedy from 1963, one of the items donated for the Tidy Towns “Community Museum” which will be opened in New Ross as part of the JFK50.

This community museum contains near countless personal artifacts and memorabilia from residents of New Ross and the surrounding areas who donated their possessions for the duration of the JFK50 celebrations.

In a press release announcing the opening of the JFK50 Museum earlier this month, curator Ray Flynn said, “we called out for photographs, flags, souvenirs, newspaper articles or even parts of the original podium, the response we have received has been phenomenal.” Among the artifacts housed at Bailey’s Shop in New Ross there are five scrapbooks of newspaper clippings relating to JFK collected by then 12-year-old New Ross resident, Rita Malone, and a letter of thanks from the White House to a local family who gave JFK a handmade blanket on his visit.

The community museum will remain open until the end of the JFK50 events and if you wish to loan any items to the Museum please contact New Ross Tidy Towns Committee or New Ross and District Chamber Office on 051-361011.


The Kennedy Leadership Forum

May 31st through June 2nd

St. Michael’s Theatre, South Street, New Ross 

Using JFK as inspiration for defining leadership, New Ross will host the Kennedy Leadership Forum featuring lectures, talks, and panel discussions all focussing on what it means to be a leader in the contemporary world.

The three-day event will cover the topics of leadership in sport, youth leadership, the intersections of leadership, culture, and business, as well as non-profit leadership. Discussing these topics will be a number of notable community leaders including former GAA President Nickey Brennan, Cathal Gaon, a former Director General of RTE , Declan Kearney, the current head of Communications and Corporate Affairs at Aer Lingus, and Matt English, CEO of Special Olympics Ireland. The Special Olympics were founded in 1968 by John F. Kennedy’s sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Plan for a weekend of scholarly debate, peer development, and shared learning in the shadow of JFK’s legacy. Youth participants are admitted free of charge to the Youth Leadership events, and forum talks are €5.00 each. For more details see jfk50ireland.com and you can make your reservations at www.stmichaelsnewross.com.


The Flame and The Journey

June 18th through June 21st

Arlington National Cemetery; Boston; Liverpool; New Ross

On the 18th of June, the Gathering Torch will be lit from the Eternal Flame at the graveside of President Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremony marks the beginning of The Journey of The Flame from Arlington to Co. Wexford, where the Gathering Torch will ignite the Emigrant Flame in a symbolic homecoming for President Kennedy.

In returning to Ireland, the Gathering Torch will reverse the immigration route taken by JFK’s great grandfather through Boston, Liverpool, and eventually end in New Ross for the ignition of the Emigrant Flame on June 22.

The flame will be carried over the Atlantic to Liverpool by the Irish Naval Service patrol vessel LÉ Niamh. After remaining in Liverpool for a few days, the flame will be taken from Liverpool to just off the Irish coast, where it will be transferred to the LÉ Orla. The Orla will transport the flame the remainder of the journey up the River Barrow to New Ross, arriving on the 21st of June, just in time for the official Homecoming festivities on the 22nd (see below for more details).


The Homecoming

June 22

New Ross Town

Beginning at 3:15pm, the Homecoming Parade will wind its way through the streets of New Ross town before ending at the Quay where there will be speeches, commemorations, music, poetry, and special guests throughout the evening until the ceremonial lighting of the Emigrant Flame with the Gathering Torch.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Caroline Kennedy, and Jean Kennedy Smith are the guests of honor at the main ceremony where artists, performers, and personalities like Anne Doyle, George Hook, Colm Toibin, Judy Collins, Michael Flatley, Michael Londra, Extreme Rhythm and the New Ross and District Pipe Band will provide the entertainment.

After the ignition of the Emigrant Flame, Taoiseach Kenny, Caroline Kennedy, and/or Jean Kennedy Smith will offer the closing remarks.

For the complete schedule of the day’s events, see here at jfk50ireland.com.


The Kennedy Homestead Gathering Event

June 27

Kennedy Homestead, Dunganstown and New Ross Town

In this commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the visit of JFK to his ancestral homestead outside of New Ross town, Kennedys, their kin, and admirers of the Kennedy Clan will converge on the Kennedy Homestead for what is bound to be one of the more memorable Gathering events. In addition to the Homestead Gathering, retailers of New Ross will revisit the streetscape of 1963 as it was during the JFK visit. See kennedyhomestead.com for the most up-to-date info.


Irish America Day

July 4

New Ross Town

In a family-friendly day of remembrance, New Ross joins the Unites States in celebrating Independence Day. From the naming of a prom king and queen to reenactments of the Boston Tea Party to a GAA roadshow, Irish and American traditions are mingled in New Ross for the 4th of July.

Festivities are planned throughout New Ross town though will be concentrated on the Quay. See irishamericaday.com for more details.


Kennedy Summer Leadership Programme

July 17th through July 19th

St. Michael’s Theatre, South Street, New Ross

Aimed at creating strong youth leaders, this leadership programme will feature discussions, seminars, and lectures of civil and political science for young people. The awarding of the Kennedy Leadership Medal by the New Ross Town Council will be the closing highlight of the event, meant to recognize an individual who carries on JFK’s legacy of leadership.

The dates are tentative and yet to be officially confirmed, so check back with jfk50ireland.com for information as it is released.


Kennedy Summer School

September 12th through September 15th

St. Michael’s Theatre, South Street, New Ross 

A main event of the JFK50 celebrations, the Kennedy Summer school is organized in association with the JFK Trust and supported by Fáilte Ireland and Wexford Local Development Limited. The goal of the event is to inspire collegial conversation about the changed relationship between Irish and Irish-American politics and culture since Kennedy’s visit to Wexford 50 years ago. 

The list of speakers ranges from corporate consultants to renowned journalists to non-profit directors; see kennedysummerschool.ie for a complete and updated lineup. Early Bird advanced tickets are €49 for all events or €99 for all the events plus the Summer School’s Newsmakers Dinner in the Brandon House Hotel. Individual events are €9.50. You can purchase tickets directly through St. Michael’s Theatre here.


The Remembering

November 22

New Ross Town

Marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, The Remembering is the final event of the JFK50 series. Mass will be held on the 22nd of November in remembrance of President Kennedy’s death and legacy, followed by a parade to the Quayside. A wreath laying ceremony will then take place at the Kennedy Memorial on the Quay, concluding with a specially commissioned lament for the President. See jfk50ireland.com for more info as it gets closer to the event.


One Response to “JFK50 Events in New Ross, Co. Wexford: Remembering when Kennedy Came”

  1. Sheila Ferris says:

    I am posting on a scrap book to New Ross owned by my mothers cousin, M/s Kitty o Callaghan, the artist who painted the Kennedy home place and presented same to the president. Kitty family ( Lawless) came from Killenagh, Ballycanew,Gorey and her dad Joe from Belfast. She always come to Wexford for her holidays each August. She completed the painting after visiting the Ryan family shop in 1963.

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