It was a big year for New Ross, County Wexford. In June the new visitor center opened at the Kennedy Homestead in Dungannon kicking off the 50 year JFK homecoming celebrations. At the Dunbrody Famine Ship Irish Emigration Experience, a new boardwalk on the quayside was completed linking the Dunbrody, the ship that Patrick Kennedy took during the famine for a new life in Boston, to where JFK spoke in June 1963.
For the first time, permission was granted for a flame from the Eternal Flame at President Kennedy's graveside in Arlington National Cemetery to be used in the lighting of the Emigrant Flame from the Gathering torch. 30 members of the Kennedy family were there.
As soon as Wild Geese member Oisin O'Connell and I walked in the door of the Dunbrody Visitor's center, we were met by Sean Reidy, CEO of the JFK trust. Mr. Reidy shared what an amazing emotional experience the town had during the celebrations and welcomed TheWildGeese.com with open arms. We received our tickets as original passengers and proceeded to go through the audio-visual presentation of the very sad but hopeful immigrant experience prior to boarding, the journey on the replica of the Dunbrody, and finally the arrival in North America. I was surprised to see that the Dunbrody's most frequent destination was the tragic Grosse Ile in Quebec, Canada, but I now know why this is one of Ireland's most popular attractions.
We went up to the cafe to see the Irish America Hall of Fame and found the induction of the San Patricio Battalion of Mexico. Oisin first came to our attention when we helped to promote ZorroFest 2013 in Wexford town which was a celebration of the life of 17th-century Wexfordian William Lamport (Guillèn de Lombardo), the "Irish Zorro".
We had one more stop on my New Ross tour which was the 'Ros Tapestry' across the street... but that is a whole other story for another day.
I cannot thank Oisin enough for taking me on this memorable journey and as we left the 'Quayside Experience' Oisin insisted I do the JFK handshake and I am so happy I did!
Read more on the 2013 50th JFK Homecoming Celebrations in New Ross, Wexford: http://www.jfk50ireland.com/