IRISH WELCOMED JFK BACK HOME 50 YEARS AGO TODAY
New Ross, Dunganstown, Wexford and Dublin, Ireland (JFK+50)
John F. Kennedy, the 1st Irish-American President of the United States, landed by helicopter at the Gaelic Field in NEW ROSS* 50 years ago today, June 27, 1963.
*New Ross, located on the River Barrow in County Wexford, is Ireland's only inland port. The ancestral home of the Kennedys is located 4 miles south of the town.
JFK became the first U.S. President to visit Ireland during his term of office.**
**The President arrived at the Dublin airport at 8 o'clock the evening of June 26 where he was greeted by Eamon de Valera, President of Ireland. JFK said that he took special pride in the United States which welcomed so many immigrants from so many different countries.
"A hundred thousand welcomes!"
JFK was welcomed by children waving American flags and singing the his favorite Irish tunes.
JFK joined in himself in singing "The Boys of Wexford".
"We are the boys of Wexford
Who fought with heart & and hand
To burst in twain
The galling chain
And free our native land."
JFK Greets Irish School Children
JFK Library Photo
In his speech at New Ross, JFK said:
"When my great grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston, he carried nothing with him except two things: a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his great grandchildren have valued that inheritance."
The President then drove to DUNGANSTOWN to visit the farm once owned by his great great grandfather, PATRICK KENNEDY.
JFK was greeted by his hostess and third cousin, MARY RYAN, who was 63 years old. She was accompanied by about 25 relatives.
President Kennedy said to his cousin...
"I'm glad to see you and I'm sorry for all the trouble I caused you."
Mrs. Ryan, who JFK visited on his 1st trip to Ireland in 1947, gave him a kiss on the cheek.
JFK and Mary Ryan
They then had tea where JFK proposed this toast:
"To all the Kennedys who went and all the Kennedys who stayed."
From Dunganstown, JFK flew to WEXFORD where he spoke at 1:40 p.m local time at REDMOND PLACE.
The President said:
"In Ireland....you see something of what is so great about the United States...through million of your sons and daughters and cousins--25 million, in fact--you see something of what is great about Ireland."
JFK concluded by adding...
"I am proud to be here. I am proud to have connected on that beautiful golden box the coat of arms of the Wexford, the coat of arms of the kingly and beautiful Kennedys, and the coat of arms of the United States. That is a very good combination."
In the evening the President attended a garden party at the Irish president's home in DUBLIN.
"One of Ourselves: JFK in Ireland" by James Robert Carroll, Images from the Past, Inc., Bennington, Vermont, 2003.
UPDATE: June 27, 2013
A VISIT TO THE IRISH MEMORIAL
Charleston, South Carolina (JFK+50) As promised, JFK+50 is back in Charleston today where we made the pilgrimage down to Charlotte Avenue Park to visit the newly opened IRISH IMMIGRANT MEMORIAL.
We walked from the Market several blocks along East Bay Street in the heat and humidity. The park is located beyond the Fort Sumter Historic Site National Park Service Building and the Charleston Aquarium.
There were only 2 people sitting on one of the benches in the park. Otherwise it was completely deserted. I found it heartening to be visiting the Irish Memorial on the day 50 years ago that JFK visited Ireland.
The park is beautiful and the large stone map of the Emerald Isle is indeed impressive. For good photographs it would be best to go in the morning, but for a cooler, less humid experience, perhaps dusk would be best.
Following are some of the photographs I made today of the memorial.