THE United States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Joe Kennedy III, has reportedly expressed interest in visiting his ancestral homeland in Fermanagh.
The grandson of late US senator and attorney general Robert F Kennedy, and grandnephew of President John F Kennedy, Mr Kennedy was speaking at a special St Patrick’s Day breakfast held by the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC earlier this month, where Fermanagh was well represented.
Kinawley man Fr Sean McManus, who originally hails from Clonliff but has been living in Washington for over 50 years where he is the founder and president of the Irish National Caucus, said there were “three sons of Fermanagh” at the event – himself, Kesh man Andrew Elliott, director of the NI Bureau, and the keynote speaker, Mr Kennedy, who has family roots in the county.
Former Kinawley parish priest, Fr Gerry Comiskey, who is now PP just across the border in Drumlane, was also at the event.
While it had long been believed the Kennedys’ great-grandmother Rosanna Cox had hailed from Cavan, research by Teemore priest Fr Ultan McGoohan revealed she was actually from Knockninny with strong Kinawley connections too. Indeed, many in the area likely distantly related to the famous American political family.
Fiercely proud of such a strong local connection to the Kennedy dynasty, Fr McManus wasted no time at the breakfast in reminding the former congressman of his Fermanagh roots.
Fr McManus said, “I urged Joe III to make sure to visit the ancestral ruins of Rosanna’s birthplace in Teemore. He seemed genuinely interested.
“And I told him, with a smile, that everyone has heard enough of ‘the boys from Wexford’, now we have to hear about the ‘girl from Fermanagh.
“I told him I would put him in touch with Fr Ultan and Fr Gerry, who know the territory and the story well.”
Fr McManus added, “Paying due honour to the remarkable Rosanna Cox is even more appropriate now than ever, since Joe III is the Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. And everyone on the whole island of Ireland would love to see him paying filial respect to this great Fermanagh woman, God rest her.”
Mr Kennedy, who served on the US Congress from 2013-2021, was appointed by President Joe Biden as Special Envoy to NI in December past, a move that was widely welcomed. The aim of his new role is to foster closer economic ties between the North and the US, with a focus on encouraging investment here.
Given his experience and family background, many – including Fr McManus – have predicted the Boston man could be a future contender for the White House.
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