Taoiseach Enda Kenny today spoke at the opening of the new Visitor Centre at the Kennedy family Homestead in Dunganstown, County Wexford.
The Taoiseach said:
The Kennedys were and are more than emigrants, politicians, an Irish-American family. They are an idea that endures and fascinates. President Kennedy said ‘A man may die… nations may rise and fall… but an idea lives on’. We see proof that it does not alone today but in weeks just past when as a nation we came together to discuss the memories and legacy of an unforgettable Summer in a fateful year..,
This home was once the world for an earlier generation of Kennedys. The private world that gave the public world the Kennedys. It is here the Kennedy children were conceived, born and reared. It’s here the Kennedy stories were told. Memories made. Songs sung.
The Taoiseach continued:
When Patrick Kennedy stepped out of this famished country to head for England and the Washington Irving, he could hardly have imagined he was stepping into history. With Ambassadors, Congressmen, Senators, Founder of the Special Olympics, an Attorney General and the 35thPresident of the United States of America all to come, all within the Kennedy issue…
President Obama’s visit to Belfast just a few days ago proves that The work goes on… the hope still lives… the cause endures…. That work, that cause, that hope was seen in everything President Kennedy did and said in those June days 50 years ago.
We are particularly honoured to have with us today, his daughter, Caroline Kennedy. Caroline, on the morning after the election your father wanted to give a signed photo of the President elect to a man who was a close friend of his own father and one of his best and most loyal supporters on the campaign. On the phone and hunting for a pen he came across one of your crayons. And it was with that crayon he signed the photograph cherished by that man and his family. It was a powerful and poignant gesture. Today in the official opening of the Kennedy homestead we reflect on a relationship between two countries that is equally powerful and poignant.
The Taoiseach concluded:
Your presence here proves the love, the respect, your family has for our people and our country.
The Ireland you visit today is a very different Ireland to that of 1963. On this anniversary we are emerging, slowly but certainly, from difficulty. Just as President Kennedy wanted ‘to show the world what a freeeconomy can do’,we want to show the world what a recoveringeconomy can do.
He said ‘Time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or the present, are certain to miss the future’.
With the friendship of the Kennedys, the friendship of America, Ireland will not.