Tuesday, October 15, 2013


October 15, 2013


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) John F. Kennedy, the 1st American president of Irish descent, welcomed Sean Lemass*, Prime Minister of Ireland, to the White House 50 years ago today, October 15, 1963.

The Prime Minister, who was elected in 1959, had been a participant in the Easter Rising, the Irish War for Independence and the Irish Civil War.

President Kennedy said...

"This is a great day for the Americans.  It is with the greatest pride and satisfaction that I welcome you to the United States.

You come as the leader of a sovereign which I can attest from personal experience, which bears the United States the greatest good will and which bears the strongest and most fraternal bonds of friendship."

JFK, the 1st president of the United States to visit Ireland during his term of office, continued...

"The three days...which we spent in Ireland this summer are among the warmest memories of our lives, and it is...a great pleasure to have a small chance to show...our great appreciation to the Irish people for they are doing now not only in their own country but in all parts of the world."

Mr. Lemass responded...

"I thank you for your kindly words of welcome.  I thank you for the honor which you have done me in inviting me and my wife to visit these United States of America as your guest.

Your historic visit to still vivid in our memory.  You came to the land of your ancestors as the President of the United States, and this was a great occasion for us."

The Prime Minister continued...

"The spontaneous demonstrations of affection...which you Dublin, in Cork, and Galway and in Limerick reflect the feelings of the Irish people and mark also the high regard which your nation has amongst all our people."

The welcoming event took place on the South Lawn of the White House at 10:40 a.m. Washington time.  Prime Minister Lemass was also given full military honors.

*Sean Lemass (1899-1971) was born in Dublin and educated at O'Connell School.  He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1915.  During WWII, he served as Minister for Supplies and became PM of Ireland in 1959.  He retired on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

Map of Ireland (2006)
by Jonto at en.wikipedia


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 50 years ago tonight, President John F. Kennedy proposed a toast to the visiting President of Ireland, Eamon de Valera, at a dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House.

President Kennedy preceded his toast by honoring visiting Irish Prime Minister, Sean Lemass.

JFK said...

"John Boyle O'Reilly spoke about a peoples' fight outliving a thousand years.  But the that all of us who went to Ireland...had a very immediate impression of a fight which was much shorter but which was even more significant.

(Ireland)...blazed the trail (in winning) her independence (and) we are welcoming to the White House tonight those who participated very actively (in that fight)."

JFK concluded his remarks by saying...

"I hope that all of you will join in drinking with me to a man who has held power and influence in his own country but whose moral leadership has gone far beyond his own country for more than 40 years, a great American, as well as the President of Ireland."

The Prime Minister responded...

"In most countries, certainly in Ireland, the tendency is amongst the people to judge public the personal qualities they reveal, the extent to which they can demonstrate a capacity for purpose and integrity, for humanity.

I think that is true to say, Mr. President, that the Irish people have tested you in this way and may I assure you that you emerged with full honors.

Your place in American history has already been adequately your the leadership which you have given not merely in America but to the free world..."

Mr. Lemass concluded his remarks with these words...

"I will be able to answer the command of the song, 'Come Back to Erin,' and nothing will give our people any greater pleasure."

Other dignitaries present at the dinner included Chief Justice Earl Warren, Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and Ireland's Minister of Affairs Frank Aiken.