The Irish government celebrated the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland in 1963 with the Kennedy family. The celebration included a daylong street party called "JFK 50: The Homecoming." John F. Kennedy is the descendant of Patrick Kennedy, who left Ireland in 1848 due to Ireland's potato famine and settled in Boston. John F. Kennedy, the great-grandson of Patrick Kennedy, became the first Irish Catholic president of the United States.
"Earlier, Kenny and the Kennedys rededicated Wexford's Kennedy Arboretum, which was planted following the president's November 1963 assassination, and opened a greatly expanded Kennedy Homestead visitor facility on the ancestral farm that one of JFK's third cousins, Patrick Grennan, still lives on today," reports the Associated Press. "Saturday's flame ceremony featured Irish drummers, an African-American gospel choir, Irish step-dancing star Michael Flatley and folk singer Judy Collins, who at 74 recalled performing for Kennedy in the White House more than a half-century ago. She concluded the event by singing "Amazing Grace" as four Irish Air Corps planes did a fly-past."
President Kennedy took a four-day tour of Ireland in 1963 and charmed the entire nation. Three torches were lit by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, JFK's only surviving sibling Jean Kennedy Smith, and his only surviving child, Caroline Kennedy. The flame was lit from JFK's plot in Arlington Cemetary and carried to Dublin via aircraft and then by Irish navy vessel to the New Ross dockside.
"May it be a symbol of the fire in the Irish heart, imagination and soul," said Kenny to the 10,000 people that gathered at the river bank.
Caroline Kennedy asked her son Jack, 20, to take part in the ceremony and give a speech.
"We have been told over and over that America is no longer the great country that it was when my grandfather was president," said Jack Kennedy, adding that his generation would "inherit a series of problems that previous generations refused to address."
Many media outlets have noted that Jack Kennedy's speech may hint at a political future once the young man graduates from Yale University.