Picture-perfect fireside at Fitzgerald Cottage in Bruff

 Memorabilia highlights strong connections between town and the Kennedys    

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

Picture-perfect fireside at Fitzgerald Cottage in Bruff

Cllr Brigid Teefy, Cllr Gerald Mitchell, Neil O'Dwyer, artist, Cllr Eddie Ryan, Cllr Bill O Donnell and Cllr Mike Donegan

ALL the trappings of an old fireplace including a black hanging kettle, bellows, and basket of turf form part of an elaborate mural which is the focal point of the newly unveiled Fitzgerald Cottage in Bruff.

The official opening of the cottage, which is located in the Thomas Fitzgerald Centre, was performed this Tuesday by Cllr Eddie Ryan, chairman of Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district.

Also in attendance were local councillors and members of the public.

Proceedings were opened by Paul Dennehy, chairman of Bruff Heritage Group who gave a history on the centre and the background on the new development.

Mr Dennehy expressed his gratitude to the elected members of Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district for approving funding for the project.

As well as the eye-catching mural by Neil O’Dwyer which surrounds  a real fireplace, there are also a number of display dressers which are home to original memorabilia which highlight the strong connections between Bruff and the Fitzgerald Kennedy family.

“There are fantastic items on display including gifts sent by Rose Fitzgerald to her cousins in Bruff,” said Cllr Bill O’Donnell.

In 1852 a young Thomas Fitzgerald left Bruff for the US. He settled in Boston. He married Rosanna Cox and they had 12 children. One of them John Francis (Honey Fitz) Fitzgerald went on to become Mayor of Boston and was a member of the US House of Representatives. His eldest daughter Rose, married Joseph P Kennedy, they had several children including John F Kennedy, the future president of the United States.

A fortnight ago, on the week in which John F Kennedy would have turned 100, the special occasion was marked in Bruff.

Limerick City and County Council held a special meeting in the town to mark the centenary of the birth of the 35th President of the United States.

A replica of the original scroll awarded to John F Kennedy on being granted Freeman of Limerick on June 29, 1963 was then presented to the Thomas Fitzgerald Centre by Limerick City and County Council to mark the occasion.

Meanwhile, to coincide with the anniversary, artist former St Munchins College student, Michael Hanrahan unveiled the final four paintings from a series of fine paintings he painted in 2013. These have gone on display at his gallery on Main Street, Ennistymon.

Michael wrote to Caroline Kennedy back in 2013 requesting images of the historic visit of the president to Ireland in 1963. The Kennedy Library sent him archival photos of the visit and he was able to base the paintings from these images.

The Kennedy Library selected the painting of JFK in Cork and Aer Lingus flew Michael and the painting to Boston where the painting was presented to Tom McNaught, chief executive of the Kennedy Foundation in the private Kennedy room. In 2013 the painting of JFK speaking in New Ross was presented to Caroline Kennedy in New Ross during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the visit to Ireland.  It is Michael's wish that the final four paintings would be kept and displayed together for historical reasons.