The John Boyle O’Reilly Society of Ireland,, honored former President John F Kennedy with its annual patriot award for the President’s contribution to Irish America and the Atlantic Alliance strategy, which ignited relations between two great countries.

The delegation was led by the Mayor of Drogheda, Cllr Richie Culhane, who travelled to Boston with the Society, to present US Congressman Joe Kennedy on behalf of the Kennedy Family with the Award at a special ceremony at the Congressman’s Newton district office.

“The last shall be first” ceremony focused on the passing of the torch to Congressman Joe Kennedy to continue the great Irish-American campaign that was spearheaded by President John F Kennedy. The presentation of the award is supported by Boston College, and renowned Irish sculptor John Coll has created a magnificent one off piece of art to commemorate the occasion.

Previous recipients of the Award include Irish American journalist and author, Niall O’Dowd and Uachtarán na hÉireann President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.  The presentation was part of a 4 day cultural trip, which focused on promoting and building relations and developing further stronger links between Boston and Drogheda, while focusing on the town’s rich culture and heritage.

Commenting on the award ceremony at the Congressman’s Newton district office, Cllr Richie Culhane said, “We are tremendously proud that the Congressman Joe Kennedy accepted the annual award here in Boston on behalf of the Kennedy Family; the Congressman’s Newtown district office is the perfect backdrop too for the Society to acknowledge President Kennedy’s contribution to Irish America relations and the Atlantic Alliance. It so happens that John Boyle O’Reilly was the President’s favorite poet, and he quoted him extensively in many of his now famous speeches, most notably his address to the Irish Parliament, when he recited the words of John Boyle O’Reilly; ‘The world is large when its wearily league two loving hearts divide, but the world is small when your enemy is loose on the other side.’

Richie went onto say that, “This is a fitting tribute to these two great men, Bostonians, but more importantly they both saw themselves as true Irishmen; and to us they are true Irish patriots, who won the hearts of many in turning their thoughts upwards for humanity.”

At the ceremony’s welcoming speech, co founder of the John Boyle O’Reilly Society, Paul Allen said “John Boyle O’Reilly was an Irish man and an American - intensely both - but more than both, his world was his country and mankind was his kin, he sought to make the world a fairer and gentler place and to many people he became a great beacon of hope. Here in the great city of Boston, the adopted home of John Boyle O’Reilly; I always experience a great love and appreciation for this great man’s work and his outstanding legacy and contribution to human rights. I am reminded of his great words; "Too late we learn, a man must hold his friend un-judged, accepted, trusted to the end." And on behalf of the John Boyle O’Reilly Society of Ireland, I would like to sincerely thank the congressman for a accepting this award.”

The delegation that travelled to Boston included Mayor, Cllr Richie Culhane, former Mayor of Drogheda, Michael O’Dowd, Chief Executive of Gorta, Brian Hanratty, PR consultant and co founder of the John Boyle O’Reilly Society, Paul Allen, historian and co founder, Sean Collins and Grainne Downes, member of the John Boyle O’Reilly Society along with a number of Drogheda based business interest groups.

The John Boyle O’Reilly Society of Ireland was established to celebrate the life and work of our national treasure, journalist, poet and author John Boyle O’Reilly (18 June 1844–10 August 1890). The goal of the society is to rejuvenate the great work by promoting greater awareness and appreciation of the life and work of this great man.