US Special Envoy stops by Co Tyrone school on visit to NI

Joe standing at the front of the classroom
-Credit: (Image: Dáire McConnell)

The US Special Envoy has been greeted with cheers when he visited a Northern Ireland school which was previously under threat of closure.

Joe Kennedy III's visit to St Mary's Primary School in Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone came after an invitation was extended by Mairaid Kelly, Chair of the Board of Governors. She asked Mr Kennedy to visit the school and meet the people involved in the campaign to save it from closure during a trip to Boston in March as part of an Ulster University Leadership programme.

Mr Kennedy honoured his promise by visiting the school during his recent tour of Northern Ireland and the school community were thrilled to welcome their special guest.

Read more: Campaign to save Co Tyrone school scoops top award

Read more: St Mary's Primary School in Fivemiletown saved from closure

After the visit, Mairaid Kelly expressed her gratitude: "Having the chance to meet the President's Special Envoy Joe Kennedy III in his hometown it was an honour and a privilege, and I wanted to return the famous Irish welcome and extend an invitation to mine.

"It was so important to me that the children in our school felt valued and recognised for everything they have achieved this year, and I hope this visit has inspired them to continue to try to change the world in the future. Mr Kennedy was incredible with them, he really engaged with every child, talking to them about their campaigning efforts and encouraging them to continue working to change the world in the future.

"As well as asking the questions only children can about his dog's name and what kind of car he drove at home, they talked to him about the importance of saving the planet and doing their best to inspire others to follow their example."

Joe Kennedy signing autographs
Joe Kennedy III took time to speak to the children individually and sign autographs -Credit:Dáire McConnell

Mairaid said that sharing this historic moment for their school with family, friends and neighbours made it so special, and a day she hopes people will remember for a long time to come.

"The fact that he took time for autographs and photographs with every single child and family was so generous, and we really hope he enjoyed his first visit to Fivemiletown.

"None of this would have been possible without the incredible opportunity provided to me through the Ulster University Leadership Programme and I hope this is part of my contribution to building the kind of legacy they envisaged by passing on my passion for social action to the next generation."

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