Limerick village gears up for historic Kennedy visit

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Caroline Kennedy who will visit Bruff on Friday
Caroline Kennedy who will visit Bruff on Friday

Fifty years after President John Fitzgerald Kennedy visited Limerick, his daughter Caroline Kennedy will return to the Mid-West to trace her father’s links and visit her ancestral family home in Bruff, Co. Limerick.

Ms Kennedy, along with her husband Edwin Schlossberg, their three children and other members of the extended Kennedy family including her cousin Ms Sydney Lawford, will visit Bruff on Friday.

The trip will involve Ms Kennedy tracing the Fitzgerald side of her father’s family who originated in Bruff. She will view the church records of the Fitzgerald Family and the site of the old Fitzgerald homestead on the Limerick/Palatine Road and attend a function at the old Bruff Courthouse to dedicate the building to her ancestor Thomas Fitzgerald. President Kennedy’s great-grandfather Thomas Fitzgerald left Bruff in 1852 for Boston taking with him the family bible which was later used by JFK when taking his oath of office in 1961.

The family was invited by the Bruff Heritage Group which formed in 2008 to ensure the heritage of the area was preserved and could be used in a meaningful way to promote Bruff.

Ms Kennedy’s visit will coincide with the formal dedication of the former District Court building in Bruff as the ‘Thomas Fitzgerald Centre’ to acknowledge the strong links between Bruff and the Fitzgerald Kennedy family.

As a lawyer, Ms Kennedy will be very interested to know that an important reform in the history of the Irish Legal System was introduced as a direct result of an occurrence in the old Bruff Courthouse in 1829 – the right of the Irish citizen to have legal representation was established and the practices of local magistrates in disallowing this was forbidden.