NEWS Joe Kennedy III is to be the new United States special envoy to Northern Ireland was welcomed across the North last week, but particularly in the Fermanagh communities of Kinawley and Knockninny, where the famous political dynasty from which he hails has strong family connections.
The grandson of of late US senator and US Attorney General Robert F Kennedy, and grandnephew of President John F Kennedy, Mr Kennedy’s new role will see him foster closer economic ties between the North and the US, with a focus on encouraging investment here.
Mr Kennedy, who is a former member of the US House of Representatives, has said he is honoured to have been appointed to the role, and that he looked forward “to working with the Biden administration to reaffirm US commitment to Northern Ireland and to promote economic prosperity and opportunity for all its people.”
Among the first to welcome Mr Kennedy’s appointment was Fr Sean McManus, president and founder of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus. A “proud son of Kinawley”, Fr McManus has written to Mr Kennedy to congratulate him on his new role, and to remind him of his local Fermanagh connections.
Fr McManus told the former Congressman he must now “talk more about ‘The Girls of Fermanagh’ and less about ‘The Boys of Wexford,’” where the Kennedy side of the family famously came from.
As revealed by the Herald back in 2018, the Kennedy dynasty also have family roots here in the county.
While it had long been believed John F Kennedy’s great-grandmother Rosanna Cox hailed from Cavan, research by Teemore priest Fr Ultan McGoohan revealed she was actually from Knockninny with strong Kinawley connections too, with many in the area likely distantly related to the famous American political family.
Fr McManus joked in his letter to Mr Kennedy, “My maternal grandmother’s second cousin married a man named Cox from the same general area. So, I am also linked to the Cox family – that could be the only thing that might stop your being President one day!”
The Kinawley native stressed he was joking, however, stating he believed “young Kennedy” could very likely have a shot at the White House in the future.
“I don’t think anything can stop young Kennedy being the President, please God. He has all the fabled Kennedy charism. But I hasten to add that ‘charism’ is not just a secular term but is also an important Biblical and theological term,” he said.
“Since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the term has increasingly been used in the Catholic social teaching, in particular to the Church’s ‘Preferential Option for the Poor.’ Congressman Joe III has that charisma in abundance.
“It is the most remarkable characteristic of the Kennedys – that despite their fame and privilege, they were always concerned about the poor and the less privileged. And that is the quality that America needs now more than ever.
“I am so proud that a descendent of Rose Anna Cox from the parish of Knockninny is now leading the struggle for the poor and less privileged in America and all over the world—and will one day take it right into the White House.
“God bless the Kennedys and God save Ireland.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition