Discover the ancestral birthplace of John F. Kennedy, a town steeped in history and maritime tradition.
New Ross is known for its links with North America and President John F. Kennedy, its maritime traditions and an annual piano festival. The town is situated in lush, rolling countryside on the banks of the river Barrow, 21 miles (34 kilometers) west of Wexford town.
The history of five generations of the Kennedy clan is told at the Kennedy Homestead, now a popular visitor center. President John F. Kennedy’s great-grandparents left New Ross in 1848, but the family remains an important part of the town’s history. A life-size statue of John F. Kennedy stands at the quay of New Ross. Families can trace the roots of their own family tree back to Wexford at the New Ross Tourist Office.
The story of Irish emigration to the New World comes to life at the Dunbrody Famine Ship. The 177-foot (54-meter) long vessel is a reconstruction of a 19th-century ship that was used to carry emigrants to North America during the Great Famine.
The town is thought to date back to the 6th century. Visit buildings that date from medieval times, such as the 13th-century structure of St Mary’s Church, one of the first Gothic churches built in Ireland. St Mary’s overlooks the town from its position on a hill. Climb to the top for views of the town. Marvel at the carvings on the ruined chancel and transepts, and read the inscriptions on centuries-old tombstones. Inside the church is a Steinway piano and a hall with warm acoustics and seating for 350 people. This is the setting for the popular annual piano festival, which takes over New Ross for a few days each September.
If you feel like getting out of town, take a scenic walk along the river Barrow. The river offers many fishing and boating opportunities. Rent a car and drive to the coast. Learn about the area’s maritime traditions at the Hook Head lighthouse. The lighthouse is 23.6 miles (38 kilometers) from New Ross.