From New Ross it was a short journey to Dunganstown & the Kennedy Homestead. Its only a simple farm with the old family house & a large stable with memoribilia & details of the Kennedy family history.
Few Americans would pass up the opportunity to visit the Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown and the Grannies were thrilled at the prospect. It’s a simple place with a homespun exhibition that Kennedy heir Patrick Grennan says, “all came from suitcases and old biscuit tins.” A brand new visitors centre is currently being built & will open in 2013. It will be more practical, more visitor friendly but I couldnt help thinking that some of the charm and simplicity – that reflects the old family, might be lost amongst the modern visitors facilities.
Patrick Grennan, one of the most charming men you might ever meet, is the heir to the Kennedy homestead, the farm that PJ Kennedy left to sail to America in 1848. PJ was a cooper & had a job to go to in Boston so was more fortunate than many other immigrants.
JFK returned to the Dunganstown family homestead in 1947, then again in 1963 when he made a famous speech on the quay at New Ross which is just along from the Dunbrody ship. He promised to return for a more private family reunion - but five months later he was dead.
There's a statue of JFK on the quay & as part of next years tourism inititive – ‘The Gathering 2013’ it is proposed to bring the eternal flame from Arlington cemetry to the quay at New Ross.
The nearby Hook peninsula has a wild & rugged beauty & at its tip is the ancient Hook lighthouse. As a thirteenth century Norman structure the Hook lighthouse is the oldest operational lighthouse in the world. Built 800 years ago by William Marshall its four metre thick walls have ensured it is an amazingly well preserved Norman building.
On the way back for another night in New Ross the Grannies were keen to stop off at Loftus Hall, a grand Victorian mansion overlooking Waterford harbour. They were intrigued by a tale of the devil’s visit, which was so widely believed that when the house was left empty for decades no thieves or vandals every went near it.