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Monday, 24 November 2014

Ireland mourns for Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy’s funeral took place on 25 November. While the Irish cadets were in Washington at the Kennedy graveside, a national day of mourning was declared in Ireland. Businesses, shops and schools were closed, and religious services took place across Ireland.

Crowds outside the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin for the Kennedy memorial service
25 November 1963
In Dublin, the main service took place in the Pro-Cathedral. Among the mourners were Bean Sinead De Valera, the Taoiseach Seán Lemass, Jack Lynch, and Col. Sean Brennan, Aide-de-Camp. A US flag was flown at half-mast outside the Pro-Cathedral as a mark of respect.

A video from the RTÉ archive shows that it was not just the Catholic majority of the Irish society that participated in the mourning, but all sections of society. The video shows people filing into the Irish Hebrew Centre for a memorial service there.

Afterwards, the Kennedy homestead became a museum dedicated to Kennedy’s visit and the Kennedy family. A memorial park was set up in New Ross, and a bust was unveiled in US Embassy by Ted Sorensen, Kennedy’s speechwriter, and his wife, Sara Elbery, then just newly married. It was Sorensen that worked with Kennedy on the landmark speech he gave to both Houses of the Oireachtas during his visit in June 1963.

Ted Sorensen and his wife Sara, with the US ambassador Matt McCluskey, for the unveiling of the Kennedy bust
7 June 1964