Remembering the legacy of Kennedy’s visit

President John F Kennedy ended his inaugural speech in Jan 1960 by saying that “here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

On his visit to Ireland three years later, this time 50 years ago in Jun 1963, he revealed that his great great grandfather left Wexford with “two things: a strong religious faith and a longing for freedom”.

In Ireland he showed great warmth and affection for the Irish people, who returned the compliment everywhere he went.

He paid tribute to Irish Christianity when he said that “no nation had done more for Christianity in the Dark Ages”.

President Kennedy was also sure that Ireland would become “a maker and creator of world peace”, praising our role in the United Nations.

He spoke to the Dáil and Seanad, ending his speech with his deep belief that “Ireland’s hour has come”. It took some time for Ireland to understand this, especially in the context of the Northern Troubles, but his suggestion was that Ireland was on the cusp of massive change, which proved to be true from the 1960s onwards.

John O’Connell

Derry

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