On June 26, 1963 American President John F. Kennedy arrived in Ireland. On the second day of his visit he visited the ancestral home of the Kennedy family in Dunganstown, County Wexford. Here President Kennedy spent time with his family and gave speeches in New Ross and Wexford Town. That evening he travelled back to Dublin. In the following days he visited Cork, Galway and Limerick before leaving Ireland on 29 June. Just five months later JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Research undertaken to celebrate the 55th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s visit to Ireland has shed more light on the American President’s Irish heritage; Ancestry, the leader in family history and home genomics, shows JFK had one great-grandparent from West Cork!
JFK’s great-grandmother Margaret M. Field hailed from Rosscarbery.
Three of his four great-grandparents on his mother’s side, Mary Ann Fitzgerald, Michael Hannon and Thomas Fitzgerald were from Limerick. Both Fitzgerald great-grandparents were from Bruff in the east of the county, while Michael Hannon hailed from Lough Gur.
Only two great-grandparents hail from Wexford, Patrick Kennedy from Dunganstown and Bridget Murphy from Owenduff.
The remainder of his great-grandparents are from the counties Clare and Fermanagh. James Hickey of Newcastle-upon-Fergus in County Clare and Rose Anna Cox from Tomregan in County Fermanagh.
Kennedy chose Wexford as his ancestral home due to the family name but research shows that the Limerick links on his mother’s side are stronger than his Wexford roots.
All eight of JFK’s great-grandparents emigrated from Ireland at various times throughout the 1800s with each of them eventually settling in Massachusetts. This means the Kennedy family have Irish ancestry spanning the country proving him to be a true Irishman.
Traditionally, JFK’s strongest ties have been with the county of Wexford, where the Kennedy Homestead Visitor Centre was opened five years ago. This small farm was home to Patrick Kennedy, and where his JFK’s great-grandfather lived.
Russell James spokesperson for Ancestry.ie said:
“President John F. Kennedy’s family history has been a much-discussed topic over the years with his Irish roots being something that was extremely important to him. Traditionally JFK’s heritage has been closely linked with Wexford but we’re delighted to find records on Ancestry, which show he had strong links to other counties across Ireland, JFK was not just a Wexford man. Our research shows Limerick also has strong ties with the former President with three of his four maternal great-grandparents being from the county.”
“These findings will hopefully allow other counties across Ireland to further celebrate the life of the former American President, on the 55th anniversary of his visit to Ireland.”