Words of JFK still ring true after 55 years

Words of JFK still ring true after 55 years
American President John F. Kennedy is driven through St. Patrick's Street in an open-top car with Lord Mayor Sean Casey, during his visit to Cork on 28/06/1963.

THE words of John F. Kennedy on his “seismic” visit to Cork city still ring true 55 years on, according to Lord Mayor Mick Finn.

Thursday marked the 55th anniversary of Kennedy’s visit to Leeside on June 28, 1963 – part of a four-day trip to Ireland where approximately 100,000 people flocked to see a US president with strong ties to the country.

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, unveiling a picture of US President John F Kennedy on his visit to Cork. This week marked 55 years since the famous visit, which took place just months before JFK was assassinated. 
The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, unveiling a picture of US President John F Kennedy on his visit to Cork. This week marked 55 years since the famous visit, which took place just months before JFK was assassinated. 

It was only an 80-minute visit, but a fleeting appearance that left a huge impression on the people of Cork after he received the Freedom of the City.

“He spoke at the time of this being the old Cork with a new mission,” said the Lord Mayor.

“It’s something I spoke about on my election. When you look at some of the developments in Cork now, that rings true. We are trying to build on the city’s past and look forward to the future,” he added.

American President John F Kennedy speaking at Cork City Hall during his visit to the city.
American President John F Kennedy speaking at Cork City Hall during his visit to the city.

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

On the Friday morning, he boarded a helicopter to Collins Barracks and was then taken by a motorcade through the streets of the city before arriving at City Hall where he was conferred with the Freedom of the City. The trip was billed as a homecoming for a man with strong roots on the island and took on a stronger resonance still when he was tragically shot and killed just five months later on November 22.

US President John F. Kennedy at Cork City Hall with Lord Mayor Sean Casey during his visit to the city.
US President John F. Kennedy at Cork City Hall with Lord Mayor Sean Casey during his visit to the city.

Lord Mayor 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. 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.

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