Happy Centennial JFK

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | August 28, 2017 0

This year is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States and proud son of Ireland. It is being celebrated today in the United States on Memorial Day.

It has been 100 years since John F. Kennedy’s birth on May 29, 1917, at his parents’ home in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston. Over the course of his life, Kennedy enjoyed lavish birthday celebrations, the most famous being a Democratic fundraising bash at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, when a sequined Marilyn Monroe breathily purred, Happy burrthday, Mr. President.

The 35th president of the United States was killed in 1963, midway through his term in office, but he is revered today as one of the most towering figures in modern American politics. Before he was a giant of history, though, Kennedy was a young man in a hurry. In 1953, seven years before he sought the presidency, he was a newly-elected Massachusetts senator and a newly-married man. Just one month after their marriage, Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, were interviewed remotely from their Boston apartment by CBS News journalist Edward R. Murrow as part of the network’s “Person to Person” conversation series.

Mrs. Kennedy laughed politely before her husband stepped in to save her. “Being married to one, I’d guess,” he quipped. Murrow asked the senator to show viewers around the apartment. Kennedy directed the journalist to a photo of himself with all eight of his siblings, taken in 1939 when their father was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. “Almost the last time we were all taken together,” Kennedy noted. “Brings back happy memories.” Kennedy’s oldest brother, Joe Kennedy, was killed in 1944 fighting in World War II. 

The United States Postal Service commemorated Kennedy’s centennial with a dedication of a JFK postage stamp in Brookline, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb where the late president was born on May 29, 1917.

The image on the stamp is a 1960 photograph by Ted Spiegel of Kennedy when he was campaigning for president in Seattle. Boston Postmaster Nick Francescucci said the stamp was selected because of the way Kennedy was looking up. “His eyes were high, they were looking to the sky (and) it looked like there was a big bright future ahead of us,” Francescucci said.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III gave the keynote speech at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site — JFK’s birthplace and childhood home. His great-uncle, he said, was a man who had honest and infectious pride. He not only implored a generation to serve, but he promised them a country worthy of their service, the congressman said. A wreath-laying ceremony also was held to honour the 35th U.S. president at his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Kennedy served as president from January 1961 until he was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963. He was 46.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Irish roots run deep. 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.

During the same period that the Fitzgeralds migrated to America, Patrick Kennedy, a cooper, left his ancestral home in Dunganstown, County Wexford, and sailed for the United States. In 1849, he married Bridget Murphy, who was born about 1827 in Owenduff, County Wexford. Nine years later she was a widow with four small children, the youngest of whom, Patrick Joseph Kennedy, would become John F. Kennedy’s grandfather.

In November 1887, Patrick Joseph “P.J.” Kennedy married Mary Augusta Hickey, daughter of James Hickey of Cork, Ireland, and Margaret M. Field, also of Ireland. Their son, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was born on September 6, 1888 in East Boston. He was John F. Kennedy’s father.


In June 1963, John F. Kennedy became the first serving President of the USA to visit Ireland. He came to visit the land of his ancestors while on a European tour, flying to Dublin from Berlin after delivering his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, in which he talked about the struggle for freedom and the threat of communism. Themes he would return to in his Irish speeches.

President Kennedy’s visit, from his motorcade through Dublin city on the night of his arrival to his departure from Shannon four days later received a rapturous reception. The President took tea at the Kennedy ancestral farm in Dunganstown, Co. Wexford. However, June 1963 wasn’t the first time Mrs Mary Kennedy Ryan had welcomed her cousin to her home in Dunganstown, County Wexford. Sixteen years earlier, during a three-week trip to Ireland, Kennedy had visited the town where his great grandfather had lived before he emigrated to Boston in 1847.

Following special permission, television cameras were allowed inside the Dáil chambers for the first when President Kennedy became the first foreign leader to address the Houses of the Oireachtas. There were solemn scenes at Arbour Hill where the president placed a wreath on the grave of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. In Limerick, Lord Mayor Frances Condell was praised by the president for her amusing welcoming speech. Hours before he left Ireland, he stood in the main square of Galway city and told the crowd: “If the day was clear enough, and if you went down to the bay, and you looked west, and your sight was good enough, you would see Boston, Massachusetts. Some of us who came on this trip… feel ourselves at home and not … in a strange country, but feel ourselves among neighbours, even though we are separated by generations, by time, and by thousands of miles.”

Huge crowds greeted him everywhere he went, and Kennedy referred to this visit as “the best ‘four days of his life.'”

Five months later in November 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy, commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963.

Born: May 29, 1917, Brookline, Massachusetts, United States

Assassinated: November 22, 1963, Dallas, Texas, United States

The Skibbereen Eagle

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