IRISH PHOTO ARCHIVE

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Kennedy's first address to the Irish

President John F. Kennedy gave many speeches in the four days of his official visit to Ireland. He had a jam-packed schedule that took him the length and breadth of the country, and he managed to squeeze in a few unscheduled stops too.

However, here is how he started his visit, with a short but sweet speech at Dublin Airport after landing on 26 June 1963.

“Mr President, there are many reasons why I was anxious to accept your generous invitation, and to come to this country. As you said, eight of my grandparents left these shores in the space, almost, of months, and came to the United States. No country in the world, in the history of the world, has endured the haemorrhage which this island endured over a period of a few years for so many of her sons and daughters. These sons and daughters who are scattered all over the globe, who have been among the best and most loyal citizens of the countries that they have gone to, but have also kept a special place in their memories, in many cases their ancestral memory, of this green and misty island, so, in a sense, all of them who visit Ireland come home.

Kennedy addressing the dignitaries and crowd gathered to greet him at Dublin Airport
26 November 2014
“In addition, Mr President, I am proud to visit here because of you, an old and valued friend of my father who has served his country with such distinction, spreading over the period of a half-century; who has expressed in his own life and the things that he stood for the very best of Western thought, and equally important, Western action.

“And then I am glad to be here because this island still fulfills a historic assignment. There are Irishmen buried many thousands of miles from here who went on missions of peace, either as soldiers or as churchmen, who travelled throughout the world, carrying the gospel as so many Irish have done for so many hundreds of years.

“So, Mr President, with the special pride that I feel in my own country, which has been so generous to so many immigrants from so many different countries, I want to say that I am happy to be here tonight.”

If you'd like to find out more details about Kennedy's visit, you will find plenty in our digital book, President John F. Kennedy Visits in 1963, available from the iTunes Store.