FIFTY years after the visit by President John F Kennedy to Limerick city, his daughter Caroline is to visit the ancestral family home in Bruff.
President Kennedy’s only surviving child will be in the town on June 21 as part of the its Gathering celebrations.
Bruff Heritage Group invited Ms Kennedy to visit the town to trace the historic links to the Fitzgerald side of her father’s family.
Ms Kennedy has contacted Paul Dennehy, the chairman of Bruff Heritage Group, to discuss the visit to the town in late June.
“I am absolutely thrilled with the news that we are to receive a visit from someone as distinguished as Caroline Kennedy, someone who has obvious strong links with the area through the Fitzgerald family,” said Cllr Bill O’Donnell.
“I congratulate the Bruff Heritage Group and in particular Paul Dennehy and his committee on their great efforts in promoting the historical links between the Bruff area and the Fitzgerald Kennedy family. This has culminated in a great honour for the town of Bruff and for the people of Bruff.”
John F Kennedy’s great-grandfather Thomas Fitzgerald left Bruff in 1847 for Boston taking with him the family bible.
This was the same bible which President Kennedy later used when taking his oath of office in 1961.
The family bible is now displayed in the John F Kennedy Library in Boston.
During her visit to Ireland, Ms Kennedy is to attend a number of events with An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, and a number of Kennedy family members to mark the 50th anniversary of her father’s visit to Ireland in the summer of 1963.
It is expected that she will lead a reunion of the Kennedy family in Wexford.
Ms Kennedy visited her ancestral family home in Wexford with her mother Jackie in 1967 but has not been to Bruff.
Bruff Heritage Group have been spearheading a project to mark the fact that Bruff was the ancestral home of the Fitzgeralds.
The group have leased from Limerick County Council the vacant old courthouse which has now been refurbished.
A visit from President Kennedy’s daughter is being viewed as a great opportunity to dedicate the building to the memory of Thomas Fitzgerald.
Patrick O’Donovan TD said he believes that the visit of Caroline Kennedy to Bruff will be one of the highlights of The Gathering Year not just in County Limerick but nationally.“When people look back on the Gathering year, the JFK 50 events will be a major highlight and I’m delighted that Bruff will be part of that,” he said. “It is a major event for Limerick and I know that Bruff Heritage, Limerick County Council and everyone involved in making the arrangements for the day will deliver a great occasion for Bruff and County Limerick,” he added.
Cllr Bill O’Donnell noted that “we can’t forget the great work that has been done down through the years by the Lough Gur community to promote the link with the Fitzgeralds, and the development of the Honey Fitz Theatre.”