Boston Museum to Showcase Kennedy’s Irish Heritage

John F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland in June 1963.

By Bridget English, Editorial Assistant
Febuary / March 2006

The museum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library will unveil an exhibition entitled “A Journey Home: John F. Kennedy and Ireland” on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2006. It will feature artifacts, film footage, documents and photographs relating to the President’s Irish heritage. Among the highlights are gifts presented to Kennedy by the people of Ireland that have never been on public display before.

Among the many interesting Kennedy artifacts is an 1850 edition of the Douay English translation of the Holy Bible, brought to America from Ireland by John F. Kennedy’s forebears. The book contains a handwritten chronicle of the Fitzgerald family from 1857, including a record of the birth of John F. Kennedy on May 29, 1917.

Jacqueline Kennedy admirers will be interested in the silver goblet given to the President by the people of New Ross, Ireland. The First Lady instructed the White House gardener to place a fresh flower in the Dublin-made goblet each day.

Among the rarest items on display is the sword of John Barry, the Irish-born founder of the U.S. Navy, and former commander of the USS Constitution. President Kennedy proudly exhibited the sword in the White House Oval Office.

Kennedy shared with Barry the ancestral homeland of County Wexford, and when he visited Ireland in June, 1963, he placed a wreath at the foot of Barry’s statue in Wexford town.

“A Journey Home: John F. Kennedy and Ireland,” just one of the library’s 25 multimedia exhibits, stands out as a testament to Kennedy’s love of Ireland.

“You send us home covered with gifts, which we can barely carry, but most of all you send us home with the warmest memories of you and your country,” Kennedy remarked as he left Ireland. Thanks to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, visitors will have a chance to view these gifts and gain some insights into the President and the land he held in such high regard. ♦

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