THE stars and stripes are fluttering proudly above the town of Bruff this week as the local community prepares to welcome home one of their own, the daughter of JFK, Caroline Kennedy.
Ms Kennedy, along with her husband Edwin Schlossberg, their three children and other members of the extended Kennedy family including her cousin Sydney Lawford, will visit the historic town this Friday. Painters have been perched on two cherry pickers for most of the week, diligently working away on freshening up the appearance of the houses and shopfronts along the town’s main street.
The paint will barely be dry on Glynn’s Traditional Fish and Chips, the Old Bank B&B and Margaret Howard’s pub by the time Caroline arrives in the town at lunchtime on Friday.
One of the first people to shake her hand will be her fourth cousin, Mike Fitzgerald. “I’m excited and I’m shoving on myself,” laughed the 74-year-old this Tuesday. “Everyone is happy out this week. They are all painting away. I have a daughter coming from London especially, Christina,” he said.
Mike and his wife Nuala will enjoy lunch with Caroline and her family in the Old Church Of Ireland on Friday which is being hosted by Limerick County Council and will be prepared next door by the staff at the Olde Bakehouse restaurant.
Proprietor Maurice Hehir has been busy putting the finishing touches to arrangements all week and the menu remains top secret until dinner is served. Following the meal, Ms Kennedy, who is the last surviving child of former US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his wife Jackie, will then walk across the road to the Morning Star Park where she will be invited to plant a tree in memory of Lenore Quilty who was a founding member of the Bruff Tidy Towns Committee and was also a relative of the Fizgeralds.
From there, she will attend the main event of her visit when she formally dedicates the old courthouse in Bruff to the memory of her great great grandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald.
During the ceremony, which is to be attended by over 100 invited guests, Ms Kennedy who is a lawyer and author, will give a speech on the steps of the old courthouse which is to become the Thomas Fitzgerald centre.
The Kennedy family were invited to the town by the Bruff Heritage Group which was formed in 2008 to ensure the heritage of the area was preserved and could be used in a meaningful way to promote Bruff. “We are absolutely delighted and honoured to be hosting Ms Kennedy’s visit to Bruff this Friday.It really is a major event for County Limerick in this, the Year of the Gathering,” said Paul Dennehy of Bruff Heritage Group.
“Following Ms Kennedy’s visit on Friday, I’m thrilled to say that every generation of the Fitzgerald Kennedys will have visited Bruff,” he added.
Also during her visit, Ms Kennedy will visit the site of the old Fitzgerald homestead on the Limerick/Palatine Road. She is also expected to visit SS Peter and Paul’s Church to view the parish record and attend a short prayer service for deceased members of the Fitzgerald family.