Next Friday, a special two-part ceremony, which involves the laying of a wreath and a lecture, will celebrate the town’s strong links with JFK on the 50th anniversary of his death.
“It’s a little-known fact that three of his eight great- grandparents came from the West Cork area,” said Tim Crowley, founder of the Michael Collins Centre just outside the town.
Two of JFK’s great grandparents, Margaret Field and James F Hickey, came from the Clonakilty area. After emigrating to Boston during the Famine, they married and had a daughter, Mary Augusta Hickey, who went on to marry Patrick Joseph Kennedy. Their son was Joe Kennedy — JFK’s father.
Margaret Field’s grandmother — JFK’s great great great grandmother — Mary Sheehy, was born near Woodfield, Clonakilty, close to where Collins was born.
“The big question we are investigating is whether Michael Collins and JFK were related,” said Mr Crowley who pointed out that JFK’s ancestors, the Sheehys, were neighbours of Collins’s ancestors.
Rose Kennedy’s family came from Bruff, Limerick. Her mother was a Hannon, but her grandmother was Mary Ann Fitzgerald from the Abbey area of Skibbereen, said Mr Crowley.
* The wreath-laying ceremony will take place at Kennedy Gardens, Emmet Square, Clonakilty, this Friday at 7.45pm, followed by a lecture and exhibition in the Emmet Hotel.