RTE archives has launched a new online exhibit chronicling John F. Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963. The new exhibit consists of more than 50 clips that document Kennedy’s four day visit through audio, video and documents of the era. RTE is Ireland’s national television and radio broadcaster.
Head of RTE Archives Brid Dooley said, “We are delighted to open this online exhibit to the public and allow our audiences to relive, or enjoy for the first time, this historic visit.” Dooley added, “As broadcasters, we were instrumental in amplifying the events during this visit, which put us firmly on the world stage. The visit occurred during an era, which according to JFK himself, ‘saw Ireland moving into the mainstream of current world events.’ This exhibit will allow widespread access to this material and enable every generation to enjoy what an extraordinary spectacle that captured both the heart and imagination of Ireland for four days in June 1963.”
The new exhibit will be structured in six parts that will cover preparation for the president’s visit to his assassination in November of 1963. The exhibit is the first major undertaking for RTE. Audio files, video footage and documents have survived thanks to RTE Archives, which have curated and digitised it all into an online format. The RTE Archives is the central repository for all RTE broadcast and is the largest collection of audiovisual material in Ireland.
JFK’s visit to Ireland in 1963 was the first significant international event happening since RTE’s launch just a year earlier. During his visit, JFK visited Eyre Square in Galway where he made a couple remarks after receiving the Freedom of the City. According to the JFK Library he said, “If the day was clear enough, and if you went down to the bay and you looked west, and your sight was good enough, you would see Boston, Massachusetts. And if you did, you would see down working on the docks there some Doughertys and Flahertys and Ryans and cousins of yours who have gone to Boston and made good.” He also visited the Kennedy family homestead in Dunganstown, Co Wexford where his cousin Jimmy Kennedy presented him with an Irish blackthorn walking stick.
JFK was descended on his mother’s side from the Fitzgerald family who had emigrated from Co Limerick to America during the Famine in the mid nineteenth century. The Kennedy family came from Co Wexford to America during the same time as the Fitzgeralds. Both families settled in Boston.
Watch a video on the exhibit here: