The Kennedy family’s journey from penniless Irish emigrants in Boston to JFK becoming the leader of the Free World is the definitive story of the American Dream.
The Kennedy Tour of Boston is a historical journey of one of America’s most intriguing families.
As with last week’s Boston Irish Heritage Tour, the tour leaves from the Boston Common. The tour’s first stop is a short walk to the Statehouse where the tour guide begins with a little history on John F. Kennedy. This history is designed to remind the audience of the political prowess eventually gained by the Kennedy’s before getting deeper into the history of the Kennedy and on John’s mother’s side, the Fitzgerald families.
Throughout the tour, the group is able to really see the transformation of the Kennedy’s from a second-class Irish-Catholic family to the family we know of today. Pat Kennedy, a first-generation Irish emigrant from Duganstown, Co Wexford, worked on the docks where the work was tough and diseases were prevalent.
Pat fathered five children with his wife Bridget Murphy, the last of which was born just months before he died. Pat Kennedy died of cholera on November 22, 1858, exactly 105 years to the day before his great-grandson, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. Pat’s youngest son P.J. became the first Kennedy elected to public office.
The tour passes the Kennedy’s residence at Bellevue Hotel and then the Old Statehouse, where participants learn about JFK’s maternal grandfather, John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, a second generation Irish emigrant. Fitzgerald was a successful politician in Boston and Washington D.C. where he was the only Catholic member of Congress.
Fitzgerald was well known throughout the Irish community and even served as president of the Irish social club the Neptune Association. Although Fitzgerald was known for being corrupt, he was also known for getting things done. Honey Fitz is responsible for the Red Line to Harvard and the Franklin Park Zoo.
The tour group learns that although it only took one generation for both the Fitzgerald’s and the Kennedy’s to achieve nominal success in the public sector, JFK’s father was not enamored with Irish’s treatment in Boston.
Joe moved the Kennedy’s to New York City for a time because he believed Boston limited what Irish-Catholics could achieve. The tour does an excellent job of illustrating the divide between the new generation of Irish emigrant families in Boston and the Boston Brahmins or Yankees who wanted to maintain the status quo. At the time, an Irish-Catholic could serve the Massachusetts senate or maybe even be mayor, but there was almost no chance one could win a state-wide election.
At Faneuil Hall, John F. Kennedy gave the last speech of his 1960 presidential campaign, where he eventually proved his father wrong by winning not only the state, but national election on his way to the presidency.
The tour also stops by the Omni Parker House Hotel, the oldest hotel in America, where JFK proposed to Jackie Bouvier and even had his bachelor party. For more fascinating anecdotes, you will have to take the tour yourself!
With nine stops in total, the Kennedy Tour of Boston gives great insight into the evolution of the most revered Irish-American family in Boston. This tour not only serves as a great history lesson on the Kennedy’s, but expounds on much of the Irish-American history in Boston itself. Overall, this tour is extremely informative and entertaining; great for locals and tourists alike.
The Kennedy Tour of Boston costs $12 for adults, $10 for seniors/students, and $6 for military personnel (children 12 and under are free). The tour leaves from the Boston Common every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 11:30 AM. Participants also get $2 off admission to the JFK library with a Kennedy Tour of Boston ticket stub. For more information please visit kennedytour.com or contact David at [email protected].