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Caroline Kennedy lights memorial flame in Ireland

Caroline Kennedy lit a memorial flame in Ireland 50 years after her father, John F. Kennedy, made his iconic trip there. 'No visit . . . meant more to him that his visit to Ireland,' said Caroline Kennedy.

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John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline Kennedy makes a speech at the former home of the Kennedy family in Dunganstown, County Wexford, Ireland, on Saturday June 22. Members of the Kennedy family gathered in Ireland to mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland.

Niall Carson / PA / AP

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Caroline Kennedy and other relatives of President John F. Kennedy lit a flame in Ireland on Saturday to mark the anniversary of his 1963 visit to the country, a landmark in its post-independence history.

Irish premier Enda Kenny joined thousands in the county Wexford town to mark the anniversary with the president's sister Jean Kennedy Smith and daughter Caroline Kennedy.

President Kennedy's visit, just five months before his assassination, was the first by a serving U.S. president and cemented the strong links between the nations forged by waves of emigration.

One of the men to make the long journey over the Atlantic was the president's own great-grandfather Patrick who left New Ross in southeast Ireland for the United States in 1848 during the potato famine.

"President Kennedy's 1963 visit to Ireland remains one of the iconic moments of 20th century Ireland," Premier Kenny said. "The powerful symbolism, memorable speeches and the warmth of the interaction between this Irish American President and the Irish public had an impact on both."

Using a torch lit from the eternal flame at Kennedy's grave at Arlington cemetery, Kenny, Jean Kennedy Smith and Caroline Kennedy together lit an "emigrant flame" in New Ross to commemorate the millions of Irish who fled poverty and hard lives at home.

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