Saturday, June 29, 2013


June 29, 2013


Galway and Limerick, Ireland (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy traveled to GALWAY 50 years ago on June 29, 1963, where he was greeted by more than 300 children from the Convent of Mercy School.

The children, dressed in the Irish tricolors "formed up to create the impression of a large flag (of Ireland) laid out on the ground." 

               National Flag of Ireland
                 Charlotte Street Park
                       Charleston, SC
           Photo by John White (2013)

The children sang "Galway Bay" for JFK:

"If you ever go across the sea to Ireland
There maybe at the closing of your day
You will sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
And see the sun go down on Galway Bay."

                         Ballyknow Quay
                            River Corrib
                         Galway, Ireland
              Photo by Greg O'Beirn (1999)

Later, speaking at EYRE SQUARE, now John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, JFK said:

"If the day was clear enough and if you went down to the bay and looked west and your sight was good enough, you would see Boston, Massachusetts."

         John F. Kennedy Memorial Park
                         Galway, Ireland

The President, who was presented with "The Key to the City," added...

"If you ever come to America, come to Washington, and tell them if they wonder who you are at the gate that you come from Galway.  The word will be out, and when you do, there will be a cead mile failte, which means in Gaelic 'a hundred thousand welcomes.'"

As JFK rode down SHOP STREET in Galway, he was greeted by thousands of admirers including Maura McSharry who later wrote...

"The President of the United States in Galway, in Shop Street, being driven slowly past our famous bookshop O'Gormans and I was there.

He was dazzling with his broad Kennedy smile and deep tan.  It was unbelievable, it still is.

He was happy, and so were the people of Galway.  JFK wanted us to share in the glory of his Presidency.  He felt safe and relaxed in our company and we were honoured by his presence.  

It was a wonderful day.  Not even the heartbreaking tragedy which befell him five months later could ever destroy the memories of the friendship he shared with us so generously during his unforgettable visit to Ireland."

                       Irish Memorial 
                 Charlotte Street Park
                      Charleston, SC
          Photo by John White (2013)

From Galway, President Kennedy traveled to LIMERICK, his last stop on the Ireland tour. 

Many Fitzgerald cousins were on hand as Lord Mayor Frances Condell made JFK a FREEMAN of Limerick City.

JFK said...

"Last night somebody sang a song...

'Come back to Erin....come back aroun' to the land of thy birth. 
 Come back with the shamrock in the springtime....'

This is not the land of my birth, but it is the land for which I hold the greatest affection, and I certainly will come back in the springtime."

As the President boarded Air Force One, a choir sang "Come Back to Erin".  

At 2:30 p.m., JFK left Ireland and Larry O'Brien said:

"If there was a dry eye at the airport, I missed it."

As President John F. Kennedy departed Ireland he carried in his pocket a telegram from President de Valera.  It read...

"Your visit has been a source of joy and pride to all the people of Ireland and to all their kin throughout the world."


"JFK HOMECOMING: President John F. Kennedy in Ireland, June 1963," National Library of Ireland, US Embassy in Dublin, JFK Library in Boston, National Archives and RTE Archives.

"One of Ourselves, JFK in Ireland" by James Robert Carroll (2003)

                   Limerick, Ireland 
         Photo by Santiperez (2007)