In New Ross, the home of his ancestors, memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy are still cherished and his legacy will never be forgotten, writes Brian Murphy, co-editor of the newly published From Whence I Came – The Kennedy Legacy, Ireland and America.
Halfway down the quayside plaza in New Ross, Co. Wexford, stands a simple cast bronze podium (pictured), which has become one of the most popular and photographed tourist attractions in the south-east of Ireland.
To the south of the podium is the Emigrant Flame, a permanent tribute to the one million people forced to flee Ireland during the Great Famine. The New Ross Emigrant Flame was lit from a flame taken from the Eternal Flame at the graveside of President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington DC.
Behind the podium and dominating the New Ross quayside is the Dunbrody Famine Ship, an authentic reproduction of a nineteenth century coffin ship and a must-see visitor attraction for anyone who wants to appreciate the perilous conditions that many of our ancestors first travelled to the America.
To the north of the podium is a memorial wall and statue of the thirty-fifth President of the United States of America.
The podium itself displays in beautifully inscribed bronze letters the full text of the speech made to the people of New Ross by John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The podium stands on the exact spot where the President delivered a famous speech on 27 June, 1963 and said, “I am glad to be here. It took 115 years to make this trip, and 6,000 miles, and three generations. And I am proud to be here and I appreciate the warm welcome you gave to all of us. 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 great-grandchildren have valued that inheritance.”