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Friday, 4 July 2014

Fourth of July

The staff at the US embassy in Dublin must be relieved to finally have an ambassador to celebrate Independence Day with. Kevin O’Malley, a lawyer from St Louis, Missouri, was nominated by Barack Obama a month ago.

O’Malley hails roots from County Mayo and has a background in diplomacy as well as law, having served as Community Ambassador in 1968 in what was then Czechoslovakia. He is no walkover however, as can be seen from his stint as Special Attorney of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the United States Department of Justice, and as Assistant US Attorney in St Louis.

The Ambassador's Residence

Hopefully, Mr O’Malley will find the Ambassador’s Residence comfortable. The Deerfield Residence is an 18th century building on over 60 acres of private grounds in the urban oasis that is the Phoenix Park. It was originally the residence of the Chief Secretary of Ireland when the country was under British rule – Winston Churchill even played there as a child.

The building also served as the US Embassy before the current embassy was custom built for this function. It was still functioning as the embassy when JFK visited in 1963, though there was still enough space to put him and his sisters up for the night.

JFK leaving the US embassy after a meeting with Taoiseach Sean Lemass

Kennedy was assassinated a few short months after that visit, and before the new US embassy was opened in 1964. The US ambassador, Matt McCloskey, who had been so proud to escort his president around Ireland, led the opening ceremony. The event had a rather somber tone, as people reflected on the loss of the man that had charmed the country the previous year.

Opening ceremony of the US Embassy in Ballsbridge, 23 May 1964

However, there will be no dampeners on this year’s Independence Day celebrations, apart perhaps from the ubiquitous Irish showers. The Irish Photo Archive wishes all US citizens in Ireland, all Irish-Americans, and all Irish citizens in the US a very happy Independence Day. And if the rain soaks the firecrackers, just head inside to the fire and let the craic continue.  

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