Limerick’s spirit lifted by leaders

Alan Condell describes the time his mother Frances, then mayor, insisted JFK visit Limerick

President Kennedy with the then mayor of Limerick Frances Condell

President Kennedy with the then mayor of Limerick Frances Condell


At the time of all the excitement, I was living in a flat in London with one coin-operated telephone. What I learned about the visit was from a copy of the Limerick Leader that my grandmother posted to me the following week.

People often ask me how did my mother persuade JFK to visit Limerick. I have no idea. She was very persuasive and when she got her teeth into a problem she didn’t let it go. She obviously made up her mind that Limerick needed a lift at the time, as it does now, and she decided this was a great way of going about it.

The visit didn’t appear on television coverage to any great extent on the BBC and they certainly didn’t take account of the Limerick visit, from what I remember. I was 23 or 24 years old at the time and funnily, after the visit, it wasn’t something that I ever spoke to my mother about in any great detail. Other than looking at photographs and talking in broad terms about people in the photos, I didn’t get to learn too much about it to be honest.

My mother was invited over to the US by the Johnsons, after President Kennedy was killed. That brought a whole different aspect to the visit.

I’d love to have been part of it. I am an only son. My father was the sleeping partner in the relationship and wasn’t involved in politics in any way, shape or form. He put his head down at work and he didn’t go to any of these functions. I have a feeling he wasn’t even there to meet JFK. He didn’t like to get involved. There is a video of the visit to Limerick that RTÉ produced and we got a copy of it. I was very proud of my mother when I watched it.
(In conversation with Brian O’Connell)

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