JFK’s death ‘was deeply felt by each of the people of Ireland’
Several events in Ireland mark 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Stuart Dwyer, US Charge d’Affaires lay wreaths during a ceremony at the US Embassy in Ballsbridge. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Stuart Dwyer, US charge d’affaires, lay wreaths during a ceremony at the US embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F Kennedy in Dallas. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
The Irish and American flags flew at half-mast yesterday at the John F Kennedy Memorial Park, a few kilometres from the Co Wexford farm where the late president’s great-grandfather grew up before emigrating in 1848
At one of the many events held throughout the country to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death, the early winter sunshine illuminated the trees gathered from around the world and showed them at their colourful best during a wreath-laying ceremony performed by Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin and Government chief whip Paul Kehoe, both local TDs.
A minute’s silence was observed by the attendance outside New Ross before the two national flags were raised and the Defence Forces band played Amhrán na bhFiann and The Star-Spangled Banner.
In his address, Mr Howlin said the “dreadful event” of Kennedy’s killing 50 years ago sent shock waves around the world. “The loss was deeply felt by each of the people of Ireland, the land of his forebears.”
His presidency represented youth and vibrancy and brought a sense of optimism to the United States and – when he visited – to Ireland, he said. “We remember today a powerful United States president, a proud Irish-American, and, in facing our own modern-day challenges, we today take inspiration and encouragement from the legacy of the life and death of one of the 20th century’s greatest figures, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.”
Mr Kehoe said that, just a few months after Kennedy’s visit when “Camelot came to Ireland”, his presidency was brought to an abrupt and tragic end.
“The death of one man in Dallas, Texas, devastated people across the globe and killed the hopes and dreams of a generation.”
Yesterday’s military ceremony included the inspection of an honour guard by Mr Howlin, a lament played by piper Sgt Noel McCarthy from the 1st Brigade Artillery Regiment, and the playing of the Last Post following the minute’s silence.
The honour guard was drawn from the 3rd Infantry Battalion from Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny and officer in charge was Lieut Larry Scallan.
Capt Dave Farragher raised the Tricolour and Lieut Dave Murphy raised the American flag. Another wreath-laying event took place last night at the Quay in New Ross and was followed by a memorial Mass in the parish church, celebrated by Bishop of Ferns Dr Denis Brennan.
Earlier yesterday, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the US embassy in Dublin.
“This morning,” he said, “we recall the very darkest of days, one etched indelibly in my own memory and that of all of my generation. We remember that tragic day 50 years ago when the United States lost one its finest presidents, Ireland lost a true friend and the world lost a great statesman.”