Celebrations are taking place this weekend in the southeast port town of New Ross in Co. Wexford to mark America’s Independence Day.
Now in its fourth year, Irish America Fest looks set to be three days of live music, culinary delights and fun-filled activities planned to cater to all age groups. Events officially kick off on Friday afternoon with a Carnival taking place along the quayside accompanied by a selection of Arts and Crafts activities. The festivities are set to continue into the evening where the live entertainment includes acclaimed artists such as Frances Black, Sharon Shannon, and The Fureys.
Saturday’s events begin at noon with the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the quay front, followed by a flag-raising ceremony. Throughout the day Al Fresco dining will take place on South Street, hosted by several local businesses. This will be followed in the evening by music from the Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks tribute bands. Saturday’s program of events will finish up with what is sure to be a stunning fireworks display over the River Barrow beginning at 10:30 p.m.
This action packed weekend continues into Sunday where those who missed the Carnival and the Al Fresco dining, or simply enjoyed it so much the first time around, have another chance to experience it throughout Sunday afternoon. Entertainment will be provided in the form of local Irish dance and music groups. Highlights of Sunday’s events also include a festival busking competition as well as a pirate festival to take place at Hook lighthouse, which is acclaimed as the oldest operational lighthouse in the world.
There will be games and fancy-dress for the younger members of the family while older members may watch the cookery demonstrations to be given by “Captain Cook” or use the opportunity to explore the lighthouse itself, taking in some of the spectacular views from the balcony.
While these are some of the official main events taking place as part of the festival, New
Ross also has much to offer in terms of its historical tourist attractions, many of which highlight the enduring ties which this town has with America. Located at the meeting point of the Nore and Barrow Rivers, New Ross has a history as a successful port town, particularly in 13th century Ireland. It is also this feature of the town, which contributed to its status as a significant departure point for emigrants during the Great Famine. One of the main memorials to this element of the towns history is to be found in the Dunbrody visitor center which includes an interpretive center, complete with famine coffin ship, the Dunbrody, and offers a narrative of Irish emigration. Also found in the Dunbrody visitor center is the Irish America Hall of Fame, which recognizes and pays tribute to the immense contributions of both past and present Irish Americans to U.S history.
Also located in New Ross is the Kennedy homestead, ancestral home of one of the world’s most famous families and currently farmed by their descendants. This cultural museum offers visitors the opportunity to uncover the circumstances that led to Patrick Kennedy’s departure from Ireland in 1848 as well as the chance to view a unique collection of Kennedy memorabilia. New Ross is also home to several attractive gardens surrounding restored Georgian homes. Located just two miles from the town is Woodville House and Gardens, a Georgian House belonging to the Roche family, which has lived there since 1876. Visitors to the recently renovated house can view the reception rooms, the former billiard room and Victorian conservatory or explore the Victorian walled garden. The Kilmokea Gardens and Fairy village are also located in New Ross. The gardens are laid out around a restored Georgian manor and include features such as replicas of a small Viking settlement, a Norman Motte and Baily and also a large organic fruit and vegetable garden. The gardens hold an Irish Heritage Garden certificate and are open daily from 10 a.m.
There is certainly plenty of choice for planning an itinerary in New Ross this weekend, all of which promise to make this a memorable 4th of July weekend for locals and visitors alike. ♦