President Obama invited to Limerick to mark JFK celebrations
FIFTY years after the visit by President John F Kennedy to Limerick city, plans are underway to extend an invite to President Barack Obama and members of the Kennedy family to visit the Fitzgerald ancestral home in County Limerick.
Thomas Fitzgerald - JFK’s great grandfather on his mother’s side - was reportedly born in Bruff in 1823.
With behind-the-scenes discussions underway to lure President Obama to take part in a nostalgic commemoration of JFK in Wexford in June, a local committee in Bruff are keen to invite him to Bruff to mark their own celebrations.
Mr Obama will be in Northern Ireland in June for the G8 summit of world leaders, in the same week as a series of special events take place in and around the Kennedys’ ancestral home.
“I have heard that it is intended to invite President Obama and, more importantly, members of the Kennedy family to Bruff to coincide with the forthcoming visit,” said local councillor Bill O’Donnell who lives in Bruff.
“I would welcome the sending of the invitation and who knows what might come of it,” he added.
It is understood that organisers of the Bruff commemoration have already made efforts to secure a visit by former US ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy-Smith and the late president’s daughter Caroline Kennedy for the celebrations.
A number of events are being planned in Bruff to mark the Fitzgerald connection. A mural of JFK and the Fitzgerald connections with Bruff is expected to be unveiled on the side of the building in the centre of the town which is currently decorated with a mural dedicated to the Flight of the Earls.
“We are about to commission someone to do the mural and we are hoping to get help from Limerick County Council,” said Declan Hehir who is a member of the local community council and the Fitzgerald Memorial Committee.
“What we are hoping to do is have a Fitzgerald trail whereby we are going to put plaques up in the areas in Bruff where we have identified where the Fitzgeralds lived,” he continued.
There has also been a suggestion to dedicate the courthouse building to the Fitzgeralds. The suggestion, it is understood, is being seriously considered.
In 1963, President John F Kennedy received a rapturous welcome when he visited Limerick city.
“It was not on his original itinerary. However, the efforts of the local politicians did succeed in getting him to stop off in Limerick on his way to Shannon,” Cllr O’Donnell recalled.
“As I have reminded my uncle Tom, (O’Donnell former TD and MEP ) no doubt the very elegant mayor, Mayor Frances Condell would have had a lot to do with that at the time because as we know she met President Kennedy in Cork. I think she would have had a big bearing on his visit to Limerick,” he added.
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