Emigrant Flame monument sparks to life

Technology specialists behind the London 2012 Olympic Torch have arrived in New Ross to work on the newly built Emigrant Flame, which will be lit by members of the Kennedy family and the Taoiseach this summer.

The ceremony in Co Wexford will be part of the JFK50 Homecoming events taking place in America, Liverpool and New Ross from May 29 to Jun 22 to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s visit.

Organisers of what’s set to be one of this year’s biggest festivals in Ireland announced yesterday that plans were “well advanced” in New Ross for a series of commemorative events.

The first event of the JFK50 will take place on May 29 when a flame will be taken from the Eternal Flame that burns in Arlington National Cemetery at the graveside of Kennedy.

Birmingham-based Bullfinch (Gas Equipment) Ltd, whose engineers developed the burner system for the London 2012 Olympic torch, the gas beacons on Hadrian’s Wall, and the 600 beacons used for Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee celebrations, have created the “The Gathering Torch” burner.

This will take the flame from the Kennedy Memorial in Arlington Cemetery to New Ross via Boston and Liverpool, the journey in reverse taken by Patrick Kennedy, the late president’s great grandfather, in 1848.

The Irish Naval Service patrol vessel, the LÉ Niamh, will take the flame to Liverpool on Jun 18 remaining in position on Liverpool quayside until Jun 20. The LÉ Niamh will then set sail for New Ross and transfer the flame to the patrol vessel the LÉ Orla, which will travel up the river Barrow and arrive in New Ross on Jun 21.

Members of the Kennedy family, including the late president’s daughter Caroline Kennedy, and sister Jean Kennedy Smith will be present on Jun 22 to see Taoiseach Enda Kenny open the redeveloped Kennedy Homestead at Dunganstown outside New Ross, and plant a tree at the nearby memorial park.

New Ross town manager Eamonn Hore contacted Bullfinch last year to outline the flame plans.

“We are looking forward,” he said, “to unveiling the finished works and having the Taoiseach officially attend the JFK50 celebratory events on June 22 and to see the Emigrant Flame set alight as a permanent memorial to all those who have left these shores and become part of Ireland’s emigrant family.”

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