Flatley, Tóibín to mark Kennedy visit anniversary

Dancer and musician Michael Flatley, author Colm Tóibín, and tenor Michael Londra have been confirmed as part of Irish celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s visit.

The Homecoming in Wexford on June 22 is one of the major dates of the JFK year and will feature some of the Model County’s best-known citizens, among others.

MC for the event will be broadcaster and former RTÉ journalist Anne Doyle, a Wexford ambassador, as is Colm Tóibín, who will recite from the stage.

Broadcaster and Kennedy fan George Hook will also take part.

International singer Michael Londra, voted best tenor at the 2012 Irish Music Awards and who is currently wowing audiences on his US tour, will perform a song he wrote especially for the event with Grammy Award-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon.

Mr Londra said: “I was born a few years after JFK visited but my earliest memories of Wexford are that no matter where I went, in every house, there was a picture of him on every parlour wall, usually with Bobby and Pope John XXIII.”

He said the song he’s written for the event ends with four lines from Ken-nedy’s favourite Irish song, ‘The Boys of Wexford’.

Michael Flatley, who has family ties in St Mullins, 10 miles upstream from New Ross, will narrate the journey and significance of the Emigrant Flame before its symbolic lighting on the quayside, evoking the spirit and inspiration of the Kennedys and the entire Irish emigrant family.

Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Judy Collins will also entertain visitors. Ms Collins performed for Kennedy at the White House “Dinner with the President” event and performed at Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.

At the launch event, the chairman of JFK50, Cllr Michael Sheehan, said they hoped people from near and far would come along and enjoy the festivities and the celebrations in memory of President Kennedy.

“It is now time to ask not what your county can do for you but what you can do for your county,” he said.

Visitors are invited to join the celebrations from 3pm as an American-style homecoming parade weaves through the streets of New Ross, followed by the arrival of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, with an Irish Naval Service guard of honour.

Mr Kenny and guests of honour Caroline Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith will take part in the lighting of the flame and many members of the extended Kennedy family are also expected to attend.

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