John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States of America, paid an official visit to Ireland in 1963. He was the first serving US President to visit Ireland. Before visiting Ireland President Kennedy has visited Berlin where he delivered his ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech. The President spent four days in Ireland and huge crowds greeted him everywhere he went. During his visit he became the first foreign leader to address the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The visit by President Kennedy to Ireland in 1963 was his sixth time to visit the country of his ancestors. His first visit was in 1939. On that occasion he came on behalf of his father to help with the arrangements for American survivors of the sinking of the SS Athenia. The ship had been sunk by a German submarine U-30 near Tory Island on September 3rd 1939. Many of those rescued were brought ashore in Galway. Kennedy later took a flight home from Foynes to New York.
When he visited Ireland in 1963 President Kennedy was on a presidential tour of Europe. He arrived at Dublin Airport from Berlin on board Air Force One on June 26th 1963. Following meetings with the Irish President and An Taoiseach, President Kennedy travelled by motorcade to Dublin City centre. Along the route he was greeted by large enthusiastic flag waving crowds.
The following day he travelled by helicopter to the County Wexford. There he visited the home of his great grandfather Patrick Kennedy in Dunganstown near New Ross. His ancestor had emigrated to Boston in the 19th century. Kennedy had visited Dunganstown on one of his previous visits to Ireland in 1947. In Dunganstown, on this occasion, the President met with members of his extended Irish family at the Kennedy homestead and enjoyed tea and refreshments.
Afterwards President Kennedy delivered a speech in New Ross to a huge crowd. In the speech the President joked that he could have been working for a local business had his ancestor not emigrated. The speech he delivered on that day in New Ross can be read on a plaque on Charles Street Dock in the town beside a bronze sculpture of the President. During his visit The President mingled with the people and even joined with a children’s choir to sing ‘The Boys of Wexford’. He later visited the town of Wexford where he laid a wreath at the statue of Joh Barry, Commander of the American Navy.
During his visit to Ireland, President Kennedy also visited Cork, Galway and Limerick before departing from Shannon Airport, for a visit to England, on June 29th 1963. Five months after his visit to Ireland President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America, visited Dunganstown County Wexford in the year 1963 On This Day.
President Kennedy claps as his four-year-old daughter Caroline and son John F. Kennedy Jr by thesmuggler- Night of the Swallow” on 2003-06-01 00:00:00
Patrick Kennedy, New Ross, Ireland by OpenPlaques on 2012-08-27 00:50:47