When I was planning the itinerary last December, I saw the ‘Fermanagh Herald’ article on Fr Ultan McGoohan’s discovery of the Teemore link with President Kennedy and I decided that we simply had to visit Teemore”.
Thus, Caitriona Turbitt, vice-principal of Loreto Grammar School, Omagh, in explaining the background to the historic first ever visit of a Kennedy family member to view the ruins of their ancestral family homestead at Toneymore West, pinpointed the reason for the choice of venue as part of an Irish tour.
Addressing the combined Teemore Hall audience of Washington DC based ‘Girls across the pond’ youth group, their host Loreto pupils and locals gathered in welcome, she outlined how her School had earlier this year visited Washington.
By happy coincidence, the traveling return American party included Stephanie Hood, granddaughter of 90-year-old Jean Kennedy Smith, President John F. Kennedy’s last surviving sibling and US ambassador to Ireland from 1993 to 1998).
Stephanie, whose mother Amanda, is Jean’s daughter, therefore gained the distinction of becoming the first Kennedy family member to view the ruins of the Cox homestead from where her great-great-great-grandmother, Rosanna, emigrated to Boston in the 1850’s.
Fittingly described by Fr. McGoohan as; “a strong woman who made the future possible for the Kennedy’s”, Rosanna became the mother of John F. Fitzgerald (1863-1950), US Congressman and Mayor of Boston, later grandfather of President Kennedy.
After refreshments in Teemore Parish Hall, visitors and locals proceeded up the winding mountain route to Toneymore West where the Cox homestead ruins nestled in the shelter of the steeply sloping site.
Speaking to the ‘Herald, Stephanie Hood, who landowner, Hubert McCaffrey, presented with a framed souvenir ruins stone sample, beautifully crafted by Christine Burke, stressed how much the visit mean to her;
“To be here and see the place that started it all means so much to me as I don’t know all that much about my relatives on my mother’s side, but I love my grandmother so much and this place, as the start of the family, is so meaningful to her”.