The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, in Boston, Massachusetts, has announced that it’s special exhibit “A Journey Home – John F. Kennedy and Ireland” will be held over until September 21, 2007. The special exhibit opened on St. Patrick’s Day, 2006. It has drawn an influx of visitors to The Museum at the Kennedy Presidential Library, especially visitors from Ireland.
The museum exhibit showcases President Kennedy’s relationship to his ancestral homeland. A large selection of gifts presented to President Kennedy by the people of Ireland are on display. There are also artifacts, documents, photographs and film footage relating to his Irish heritage. His state visit to Ireland from June 26 to 29, 1963 is also on film and on exhibit.
The web site of the John F. Kennedy Library has information about the exhibit. Items featured in the exhibit include:
A silver goblet made in Dublin in 1805. This goblet was given to President Kennedy by the people of New Ross, Ireland, which was the home of his great grandfather. JKF kept it displayed in the Oval Office. Jacqueline Kennedy instructed the White House gardener to place a fresh flower in it daily.
1850 edition of the Douay English translation of the Holy Bible, which was brought to America by John F. Kennedy’s forebears. The bible chronicles the Fitzgerald family from 1857. It records the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on May 29, 1917. President Kennedy took the presidential oath of office on this family bible.
The sword of Commodore John Barry. Commodore Barry was a founder of the U.S. Navy and the former commander of the USS United States.Barry served during the Revolutionary War as one of the first captains of the Constitutional Nave. He was born in County Wexford, Ireland, which was the ancestral home of President Kennedy. President Kennedy displayed the sword in the White House Oval Office.
The Freedom of Wexford Chest. This chest has never been previously displayed at the Library. It bears the inscription “Presented to Mr. John Fitzgerald Kennedy President of the United States of America on the occasion of his enrollment as an Honorary Freeman on the 27th day of June, 1963.”
The Original Treaty of Ormonde. The treaty, between the Early of Ormonde and John O. Kennedy and those of his nation, dated March 5, 1336. This document is the fist mention of the Kennedy name in Irish historical records. It was a gift to President Kennedy from Prim Minister Sean LeMass and the people of Ireland.
Leinster Harp Plaque
Freedom of the City of Galway Casket
Freedom of the City of Cork Casket.
Assignment of Armorial Ensigns to the Kennedy Coat of Arms
President Kennedy was proud of his Irish heritage. During his historic visit to Ireland he remarked, “This is not the land of my birth but it is the land for which I hold the greatest affection.”
President Kennedy had a rich Irish heritage. Eight great grandparents migrated to Boston during the Potato Famine in Ireland, during the late 1840’s. Like so many other Irish immigrants, they came to take advantage of the opportunities and political liberties enjoyed in America. Both of President Kennedy’s grandfathers became successful Boston politicians by the end of the century. Patrick J. Kennedy was a tavern owner and banker who served in both Houses of the Massachusetts Legislature. He was the political “boss” of a war in Boston. John F. (“Honey Fitz”) Fitzgerald was a colorful politician who served in the State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
The special exhibit is only one of the many attractions of this museum, which documents the one thousand days that President Kennedy served in office. There are 25 permanent exhibits including:
Campaign Trail: Relive the presidential campaign that won the 1960 presidential election.
Briefing Room: Television was a new medium. President Kennedy was the first president to use it to speak directly to the American people. See video samples of press conferences.
Space: President Kennedy made it a priority that the United States land an man on the moon before the Soviet Union. See models of the Friendship 7 Project Mercury space capsule and video of Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel John Glenn’s blastoff.
Attorney General’s Office: President Kennedy appointed his brother, Robert Kennedy to the office of Attorney General. The centerpiece of the exhibit are documents and personal items of Robert Kennedy’s’ placed on top of his desk.
The Oval Office: Since 1909 the Oval Office has the President’s office. President Kennedy personalized his office with his collections of ship models and scrimshaw.
First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy: The display includes photographs, video footage of her televised tour of the White House and International Travels.
The Kennedy Family: John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the offspring of two families whose roots stretched back to Ireland.
With all of these fascinating exhibits, a visit to this museum is sure to be fascinating. During the special exhibit, that honors President Kennedy’s Irish heritage, people of Irish heritage find it especially interesting. The Museum is open 7 days per week, form 9 am to 5 pm. Admission $10 Adults, $8 Seniors and Students.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Boston, MA 02125