Pictures: JFK's visit to Cork remembered 57 years on 

Pictures: JFK's visit to Cork remembered 57 years on 
President John F. Kennedy leaving Collins Barracks, during his Irish visit in 1963.

On June 28, 1963, JFK arrived in Cork as part of a four-day trip to Ireland where approximately 100,000 people flocked to see a US president with strong ties to Ireland.

The president arrived in Dublin on a Wednesday and visited Wexford to explore more of his Irish ancestry with relatives the following day.

Crowds cheering the US President John F Kennedy in Patrick St Cork. 
Crowds cheering the US President John F Kennedy in Patrick St Cork. 

On the Friday morning, he boarded a helicopter to Collins Barracks and was then taken by a motorcade down Summerhill, along MacCurtain Street, over Patrick’s Bridge, along Patrick’s Street, Grand Parade and the South Mall and over Brian Boru Bridge to the City Hall where he was to be conferred with the Freedom of the City by Lord Mayor, Sean Casey.

Pictures in The Echo archives show Gardaí attempting to manage the enthusiastic crowd attempting to get as close as they could to the action. 

Inside City Hall, Lord Mayor Sean Casey addressed the assembled guests and honoured JFK with the Freedom of the City.

People break through the Gardaí on Parnell Place during JFK's visit to Cork.
People break through the Gardaí on Parnell Place during JFK's visit to Cork.

"President, you have reached the highest point in American public life, which any Irish man or any man of Irish descent has ever reached before. 

"In honouring you today, therefore, in Cork, we honour yourself personally, we honour the great American nation and I think we honour our own kith and kin beyond the sea. 

"We honour all those who crossed the Atlantic from this tiny island who made their new homes in the United States and who have contributed so much to that country throughout the years," he said.

John F. Kennedy at Cork City Hall with Lord Mayor Sean Casey during his visit to the city on June 28, 1963.
John F. Kennedy at Cork City Hall with Lord Mayor Sean Casey during his visit to the city on June 28, 1963.

Cork was not originally part of the President’s itinerary but press secretary Pierre Salinger told journalists during a reconnaissance visit to Ireland earlier in 1963 that Kennedy had insisted he visit Cork due to a family linkage on the Fitzgerald side of his family. 

The President said it was an honour to receive the Freedom of the City.

Crowds of people on Lapp's Quay awaiting the arrival of JFK
Crowds of people on Lapp's Quay awaiting the arrival of JFK

"What pleases me most about coming here is not only this connection which all of us in America feel with Ireland even though time and generations may have separated us from this island but also because I find here in Ireland those qualities which I associate with the best not only of my own country but of all that we’re trying to do and all that we're trying to be," he said.

He also spoke about the "climactic period" the world was then in and said the "most powerful tide" of the twentieth century was the desire for national independence and desire to be free. 

Speaking to The Echo on the 55th anniversary of Kennedy’s visit to Cork, Independent councillor and former Lord Mayor, Mick Finn, said the people of the city still remember it with fondness.

"It was before my time but I know from speaking to people of that generation that it was a hugely important visit to Ireland and the fact he came to Cork was seismic at the time," he said.

"He was one of the most iconic figures of his day and when he spoke to Cork City Council it was a huge day for Cork.

June 28 1963: President John F. Kennedy of the USA is almost lost among a crowd of well-wishers during his visit to Cork in Ireland. Photo: Keystone/Getty Images)
June 28 1963: President John F. Kennedy of the USA is almost lost among a crowd of well-wishers during his visit to Cork in Ireland. Photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

"People are still talking about it and a lot of families down through the years would have had the Sacred Heart and John F Kennedy [pictures] in their living rooms.

"He was almost like a film star. There were lots of world events going on and here was a man who was central to the 20th century."

"The visit became even more important, retrospectively, when he was assassinated a number of months later," he added.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

summersoaplogosml

Catch up on the latest episode of Annie May and the Hit Brigade written and read by  Mahito Indi Henderson.

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more