The naming of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge

(Guest Blogger) Séamus Kiely delves a little deeper into the origins...

The naming of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge

Ireland’s longest bridge will finally be joined next month with 66 per cent of the new bridge is in Co. Wexford, meeting the land just a few kilometres from the Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown. The remaining 33 per cent is in Co. Kilkenny and joins the N25 at the new roundabout at the bottom of Glenmore Hill. but it has been the naming of the impressive structure which has been one of much debate since the official name of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was put in place – (Guest Blogger) Séamus Kiely delves a little deeper into the origins…

Rose Kennedy was 105 years old when she died in 1995. The FitzGeralds were one of the toughest mercenary families in Wales and came to Ireland with the first Normans 850 years ago. One of them, Geraldus, was an historian and his book recording the invasion of Ireland is in the National Library in Dublin.
(The Kennedy name is also Norman but the Kennedys came at a later date.)

Patrick Kennedy left New Ross for America in 1849. Joseph Kennedy was born in 1888. He married Rose FitzGerald in October, 1914. They had 9 children. 5 of them are important to Ireland – John, Robert, Jean, Eunice and Ted.

  • John FitzGerald Kennedy: President of U.S.A. Visited New Ross in June, 1963. Assassinated in November, 1963.
  • Robert Kennedy: U.S.A. Attorney General. Assassinated in June, 1968.
  • Jean Kennedy Smith: U.S.A. Ambassador to Ireland. Author. Supporter of the Dunbrody Famine Ship.
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver: Founder of the Special Olympics.
  • Ted Kennedy: Tireless supporter of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.
  • The Kennedy name and the FitzGerald connection from 1169/70 is an advantage and more recognisable to American and British tourists.

    In 1849, during the Famine, Patrick Kennedy left his home in Dunganstown and sailed from New Ross quay to America.

    Ninety eight years later, 30 year old John FitzGerald Kennedy was in Ireland and paid a visit to his ancestral home at Dunganstown. This visit was the inspiration for his well-remembered trip to Ireland as President of the U.S.A in 1963. He was determined to visit his ancestral home in spite of the opposition of his advisers. Sixteen years after his first visit in 1947, he once again met his cousins for a famous afternoon tea party at Dunganstown.

    The coverage of his visit was seen all over the world – live coverage when most houses in Ireland did not have a television set. It is generally believed that this visit during the swinging sixties was the beginning of Ireland being recognised around the world.

    However, exactly five months later, the 46 year old President was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, 22nd November, 1963, at 5.30 pm Irish time. This tragic event sent shock waves around the world and to those of us of a certain age, who can remember that day, can recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when the news broke. I heard it on the car radio, driving down Pall Mall in London, on the way home to Ascot.

    In New Ross we have one of the finest quay fronts in Ireland. At the exact spot where JFK spoke in June 1963 is a lectern on which are written the exact words he spoke on that famous occasion. If you have not already paid a visit, you should do so.

    Near the Michael O’Hanrahan Bridge you will find a life-size bronze statue of JFK and on the monument behind him you can read some of his finest quotes.

    Wexford is steeped in history. We can trace the FitzGeralds from the Norman landings of 850 years ago and the Kennedy name is recognized worldwide.

    Just a few weeks ago a life-sized bronze statue of J.F.K. was unveiled at Bruff, Co. Limerick, the home of Kennedy’s greatgrandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald.

Before the end of this year we will have the finest bridge in Ireland over the mighty River Barrow and really that should be all that matters…if local people call the bridge the Pink Rock Bridge, the New Bridge, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge or anything else, but from an historical point of view, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge is a good choice.


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