I am glad to be here. It took 115 years to make this trip,
and 6,000 miles, and three generations. But I am proud
to be here and I appreciate the warm welcome you have
given to all of us. When my great grandfather left here to become
a cooper in East Boston, he carried nothing with him except
two things: a strong religious faith and a strong desire for
liberty. I am glad to say that all of his great grandchildren
have valued that inheritance.
-- John Fitzgerald Kennedy, to the people of New Ross, Wexford, upon his ‘return’ to his family’s ancestral homestead, June 27, 1963
Nearly five months later, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the nation’s only Irish Catholic president, would die, cut down by an assassin’s bullet. Friday, November 22nd, marks the 50th anniversary of that cataclysmic event, an event that changed the emotional and political landscape of the United States.
This week within The Wild Geese community, we will explore the life and legacy of John F. Kennedy ... and his Irish links in particular, in tandem with you. In our discussion threads and in your own blogs here, share with us your recollections of JFK’s impact on you and his impact on your family. Or post your reflections on what JFK has meant to the great experiment in democracy that we call the United States, and JFK’s impact worldwide.
Perhaps the best source of information about JFK’s own ‘Irish story’ is the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. The library points out the modern origins of the Kennedys’ Irish roots on its website, in a section titled “John F. Kennedy and Ireland”:
The Fitzgerald family was from the rural County Limerick village of Bruff in western Ireland. Between 1846 and 1855, some of the Fitzgeralds migrated to America to escape the devastating potato famine. Thomas Fitzgerald, born in Bruff in 1823, and Rose Anna Cox, born in County Cavan in 1835, were the parents of John Francis Fitzgerald, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 11, 1863.
On September 18, 1889, John Francis ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald married Mary Josephine Hannon of Acton, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Michael Hannon and Mary Ann Fitzgerald, both born in Ireland. Their daughter, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald, was born on July 22, 1890 in Boston. She was John F. Kennedy's mother.
You can learn much more by referring to the Library’s fascinating website, at www.JFKlibrary.org.
Our community’s focus on “JFK and the Irish” is brought about with the help and support of Heritage and Media Partners Irish Photo Archive, Heritage Hurleys, and The Kennedy Homestead. Through the week, we hope to explore the impact of JFK’s presidency on all our lives, whether we lived in Hoboken or Carrigart, Vancouver or Auckland, Saskatchewan or J’burg, Dublin or Newcastle.
Perhaps the emotional highlight of the week will be a LIVE community-wide chat, slated for Friday, November 22, the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, at 5 p.m. ET / 10 p.m. Irish time. The 60-minute long event will be conducted in our Main Chat Room.
A representative from The Kennedy Homestead and Irish Photo Archive’s Sean Walsh will be the prime focus for the 60-minute event, conducted in our Main Chat Room and moderated by our team. One focus will be the story of JFK’s visit in June 1963 to Ireland, and especially to his family’s ancestral homestead in New Ross, County Wexford. With Sean Walsh’s help, we will hear how photojournalist Andy Farren, today 97, helped capture moments during the ‘homecoming’ for posterity. Please RSVP as we expect a crowd.
Irish Photo Archive is providing two 12x16 prints made from the photos shot by Farren, now part of the Lensmen Agency collection it owns. We will offer these to participants in the community-wide chat via drawing held after the chat ends. These commemorative items are destined to become heirlooms.
Also to be given away to a lucky participant in Friday’s chat is a JFK Souvenir Hurley from Heritage Hurleys. Registered with the Crafts Council of Ireland, our Heritage Partner Heritage Hurleys is based in Westmeath. The firm makes handcrafted Irish Ash hurling gifts and souvenirs, personalized with images and text, giving an engraved effect finish a unique and beautiful Irish gift for all occasions.
ABOUT OUR SPONSORS FOR ‘JFK AND THE IRISH’:
The Lensmen Photographic Agency was established by Andrew Farren and Padraig MacBrian in Dublin in 1952, and quickly became Ireland's premier photographic agency. The company was bought by Irish Photo Archives’ Susan Kennedy in 1995. Now in its seventh decade, Lensmen continues to capture the essence of Irish life with stunning and thought-provoking photography. For more information, visit www.IrishPhotoArchive.ie.
The Kennedy Homestead, birthplace of President John F. Kennedy’s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy, celebrates the story of five generations of the Kennedy dynasty and is still today farmed by his descendants. For more information, visit http://www.kennedyhomestead.ie/about/
Heritage Hurleys, registered with the Crafts Council of Ireland, is based in Westmeath. The firm makes handcrafted Irish Ash hurling gifts and souvenirs, personalized with images and text, giving an engraved effect finish a unique and beautiful Irish gift for all occasions. Read more about Heritage Hurleys here.
ABOUT THE WILD GEESE IRISH HERITAGE PARTNERSHIP:
The Wild Geese partners with dozens of Irish-oriented marketers worldwide who share and support our community’s passion for exploring and celebrating the epic heritage of the Irish ‘wherever green is worn.’ For more information, visit http://thenewwildgeese.com/page/sponsorship or contact Gerry Regan, at ger@TheWildGeese.com