4 July is being celebrated in New Ross, County Wexford as Irish America Day - the anniversary of America's declaration of independence from Great Britain.

The ship was launched in 2001 as a memorial to the emigration of the famine period and Wexford's connection with the family of US President John F. Kennedy.

Jean Kennedy Smith, sister of the President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and former United Sates ambassador to Ireland launched with ship with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Speaking at the event Taoiseach Bertie Ahern called for the rejection of racism and prejudice and for people to work together to build a more tolerant, multicultural society in Ireland.

It's a changed world now. People are coming here. We’re not going away.

The project was not without its problems. At one stage, it ran out of money and was rescued by direct support from the Department of the Marine. Over two hundred thousand people visited the ship yard during the build and it is expected that many more will visit when the ship is open to the public from May.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 11 February 2001. The reporter is Tom MacSweeney.