An emotional Micheal Flatley shed tears yesterday as he was inducted into the Irish American Hall of Fame in County Wexford as 400 invited guests looked on, including Ireland’s tourism minister Leo Varadakar.
The heritage museum and emigrant heritage center is located near New Ross and is the same place where John F. Kennedy’s ancestors emigrated to America, reports the Irish Times.
The newly built center is on the quayside beside the replica famine ship 'The Dunbrody.’ The center was built at a cost of $4 million.
Flatley stated: “I’m reminded of all the tears that were shed in this spot, how many mothers cried here.”
Addressing his mother Eilish, who was also there along with his family, he said: “Mam, I’d be nothing without you; I’m so proud to be your son.”
His own son Micheal, now four was also present for the ceremony, as well as his wife Niamh.
The Irish America Hall of Fame was created in conjunction with our sister publication Irish America Magazine. Irish America Magazine editor Patricia Harty was also at the event.
As part of the new museum visitors are given a recreated trip on board the famine ship to America. Minister Varedakar drew the name of a famine immigrant Biddie Keogh who traveled in steerage to the new world.
He drew the “three pounds and 10 shillings” ticket of Biddy Keogh and was sent below-deck to experience how those who traveled in steerage made the journey.
Others inducted into the hall of fame included President Clinton, businessmen Don Keough, Denis Kelleher, and Bill Flynn, famed doctors, humanitarian Dr.Kevin Cahill and Nobel Prize Winner Dr. James Watson, who discovered DNA, Jean Kennedy Smith, writer Mary Higgins Clark, and philanthropist Chuck Feeney
Actors created a pageant showing the hardship of the emigrant experience.
A woman wearing a shawl keened: “What’s going to become of us, God only knows.”
Sean Reidy, the CEO of the Dunbrody Famine Ship, stated the vessel "illustrates the passion and drive of the Irish to succeed in difficult circumstances".
Minister Varadkar said the center "will play a vital role in keeping Ireland attractive to overseas visitors."