JFK’s daughter Caroline led the family pilgrimage to the Limerick village of Bruff, birthplace of Tom Fitzgerald whose descendants through marriage gave the Kennedys the "F" in their name.
The Irish Times reports that the East Limerick village puts its best face on as the Kennedy’s celebrated the 50th anniversary of the President’s historic visit to Ireland.
The people of Bruff enjoyed their moment in the sun as the focus of the Kennedys switched from their arrival in Dublin, ahead of more celebrations in Wexford.
Bruff Heritage Group member Paul Dennehy told the paper: “This is our gig, our moment.”
Caroline Kennedy and her cousin Sydney Lawford led the family visit to the sacristy at the church of St Peter and St Paul.
Together with Caroline’s three children Jack, Rose and Tatiana, they examined the Fitzgerald family records.
Tom Fitzgerald was born in Bruff in 1823, six years before St Peter and St Paul’s Church was built.
The Irish Times reports that Canon Costello told the congregation that Bruff remembered him and welcomed home his descendants but remembered also ‘all those who lost their lives on the high seas trying to get to the land of hope in coffin ships’.
The Kennedy children read prayers of the faithful along with locals at a special service.
The reports says the prayers were for public servants and all who work for the common good; for those who travel and those who cannot because they are jailed for their beliefs; for world peace and the sick and aged; for the deceased of the Fitzgerald and Kennedy families (Jack); for those who have emigrated recently in search of work (Rose); and that God’s gifts are used wisely (Tatiana).
The Kennedys plant two rowan, or mountain ash, trees in a riverside park opposite the church.
Caroline spoke to locals of the Fitzgeralds, of her grandmother, the redoubtable Rose, an ever-present force in her father, aunt’s and uncle’s lives as well as in her own.
She said: “Grandma always had it that the Fitzgeralds were the better half of the family.”