The 50th anniversary of President John F Kennedy’s 1963 visit to Ireland will be celebrated in a multimedia exhibition titled “JFK: Homecoming” which will encourage the public to submit their memories, photos and mementos regarding his visit.
President Kennedy’s visit was a momentous event in Irish history which brought half of Dublin city’s population to the city center just to catch a glimpse of him. A further 100,000 people travelled to see him in Cork, Limerick and Galway, while Wexford town’s population of 12,000 swelled to 30,000 on the day he visited the Kennedy family’s ancestral home in Dunganstown.
Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has said that the social media campaign, website and an exhibition at the National Library of Ireland are a fitting way to commemorate President Kennedy’s trip:
"President Kennedy had a close personal connection to Ireland, his visit had an extraordinary impact on Ireland, and many people here felt a strong affinity with and warmth for President Kennedy," he said.
"Kennedy himself referred to Ireland as 'not the land of my birth, but it is the land for which I hold the most affection’.”
"This website and social media campaign allows people to share their experiences from this historic time and to relive the historic visit from 1963," reports the Independent.
Members of the public who remember the visit are being asked to submit their memories to www.jfkhomecoming.com and contributions will form part of the multimedia exhibition “JFK: Homecoming” which will run from June 20 to August 13. The exhibition is in partnership with the US Embassy, the JFK Presidential Library, the National Archives and RTE.
Also in a bid to not forget JFK’s Irish heritage is Henry Healy, President Obama’s Irish eighth cousin, who has encouraged the people of Bruff in County Limerick to capitalise on their close links to JFK.
“It might be 50 years since the visit of JFK to New Ross,” said the Moneygall man, “but that link is still being celebrated down there so it is time for Bruff to use what they have and make the most of it and highlight the fact that not only did the Fitzgeralds come from there but Rose Fitzgerald [JFK’s mother] visited Bruff as a child. They should be highlighting that, marking the plaques and showcasing what they have,” reports the Limerick Leader.
Thomas Fitzgerald - JFK’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side - was reportedly born in Bruff in 1823. The Fitzgerald family bible which was brought to the US from Bruff was used in the inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1961, confirming Bruff’s close links to the Fitzgeralds. As part of this year’s The Gathering and in celebration of President Kennedy’s links with Bruff, the town will host an historical walk which will take in the Fitzgerald Kennedy trail as well as a fourth of July American celebration on the main street.