Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Kennedy visit to Bruff

As Ireland said farewell to the Obamas, a Co Limerick town was yesterday making final preparations to welcome the Kennedy clan.

JFK’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, along with her husband Edwin Schlossberg, their three children, and other members of the extended family will visit Bruff on Friday.

The old courthouse in the town will be renamed after John F Kennedy’s great grandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald, who emigrated to the US from Bruff in 1852.

He took with him the family Bible, which was used for the swearing into office of JFK in 1961.

The visitors will see the site of the old Fitzgerald homestead on the Palatine Road.

The visit has been organised by Bruff Heritage Group. Spokesman Paul Dennehy said: "During Friday’s visit, we will dedicate and rename the former district court building the ‘Thomas Fitzgerald Centre’ to acknowledge the strong links between Bruff and the Fitzgerald Kennedy family. With this visit, every generation of the Fitzgerald Kennedys will have come to Bruff."

The centre will be used partly as a training site by Ballyhoura Development and will also be used as both an exhibition and heritage amenity.

Mr Dennehy said: "Caroline Kennedy is of course a lawyer and will be very interested to know that an important reform in the history of the Irish legal system was introduced as a direct result of an occurrence in the old Bruff courthouse in 1829 — the right of the Irish citizen to have legal representation was established and the practices of local magistrates in disallowing this was forbidden.

"So it is especially significant that she will be present in Bruff to dedicate this historical building to her ancestor."

After arriving in Amer-ica, Thomas Fitzgerald married Rosanna Cox from Cavan and one of their children, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, went on to become mayor of Boston, serving a number of terms in office.

Honey Fitz married his second cousin, Mary Hannon, whose family also came from Bruff. Their daughter was Rose Fitzgerald, born Jul 22, 1890.

Rose married Joe Kennedy in 1914 and one of their children was John F Kennedy — the 35th president of the US.

In 1908, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald and Rose, then aged 18, visited Bruff and stayed in Shaughnessy’s Hotel on Main St for three days. During their stay, they visited the small farmhouse at The Pike, Bruff, where the Fitzgerald clan originated.

All that remains now is a model of the farmhouse, which was constructed in the early 1960s by a local artist who married into descendants of the Fitzgerald family. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Caroline Kennedy is to visit Bruff on the 21st June 2013

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, America's first Irish-Catholic president, was a son of two families whose roots stretched back to Ireland.

The Fitzgerald family was from the rural County Limerick village of Bruff in western Ireland. Between 1846 and 1855, some of the Fitzgeralds migrated to Americato escape the devastating potato famine. Thomas Fitzgerald, born in Bruff in 1823, and Rose Anna Cox, born in County Cavan in 1835, were the parents of John Francis Fitzgerald, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 11, 1863.
On September 18, 1889, John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald married Mary Josephine Hannon of Acton, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Michael Hannon and Mary Ann Fitzgerald, both born in Ireland. Their daughter, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald, was born on July 22, 1890 in Boston. She was John F. Kennedy's mother.
During the same period that the Fitzgeralds migrated to America, Patrick Kennedy, a cooper, left his ancestral home in Dunganstown, County Wexford, and sailed for the United States. In 1849, he married Bridget Murphy, who was born about 1827 in Owenduff, County Wexford. Nine years later she was a widow with four small children, the youngest of whom, Patrick Joseph Kennedy, would become John F. Kennedy's grandfather.
In November 1887, Patrick Joseph "P. J." Kennedy married Mary Augusta Hickey, daughter of James Hickey of Cork, Ireland, and Margaret M. Field, also of Ireland. Their son, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was born on September 6, 1888 in East Boston. He was John F. Kennedy's father.