Sunday, June 23, 2013

Remembering JFK - First U.S President To Walk On Irish Soil

I'm not quite sure where you'd need to have been hiding for the past few months not to realise that, at this very moment, Ireland is in the midst of commemorating President John F. Kennedy's 50th anniversary visit to these green shores.

Although Dublin, Cork and Limerick were honoured with his visit it was his "homecoming" to (The Kennedy Homestead) Dunganstown, New Ross in County Wexford which drew the greatest media attention and indeed, the massive outpourings of "Cead Mile Failte" from family and locals alike. It was from this place in 1848 that the President's great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, left for the United States along with the many other emigrants aboard the Dunbrody Famine Ship.

I was exactly eleven and a half years old on that evening in June 1963 as the presidential cavalcade moved slowly along Westmoreland Street, Dublin.  Standing tall and tanned in the open-top car was the President of the United States, JFK, as he was affectionately known to one and all.   Deciding I wanted a good view of this exciting person who had traveled from a far off land (well, actually Germany that morning) to be with us I gradually inched my way out to the front of the crowd, my mother within grabbing distance behind me.

I'm not quite sure if it was his brown skin (I'd never seen anyone with a tan before!), dazzling smile or his amazing presence, probably all three I suspect but I went weak at the knees when he passed by.  I'm even certain he made eye contact with me as he waved, well, I live in hope!

As we didn't have a telly until a little later on, mother and myself would head over to our neighbour across the street to view on her Bush or Pye 17" box all the comings and goings of the President as he traveled around the country giving, what became, his historic speeches.   Yes, for me, the summer of '63 was a good one.

Above image: President John F. Kennedy in New Ross, County Wexford, 27th June 1963 via Wiki.


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