JFK’s sister marks Shannon visit

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Jean Kennedy Smith
Jean Kennedy Smith

JFK’s sister and former Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith marked the last time her brother spoke and set foot on Irish soil.  Ms Kennedy Smith was in Shannon for her flight back to the US following the two week celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the President’s State visit to Ireland.

Ms Kennedy Smith signed a hand-printed copy of her brother’s famous speech at Shannon, which will be framed and sit in the airport beside the famous JFK Portrait. The portrait was commissioned and hung at Shannon 48 years ago to commemorate President’s Kennedy’s tragic death just months after he departed Irish shores.

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Asked if the two-week visit was emotional, Ms Kennedy Smith said:  “Yes, in a nice way, in a good way.  He is very much loved in very many different places, because he was so young and a very vibrant person and people remember him that way.

“He (President Kennedy) loved his time here, he said it was the best time of his life and I believe it.”

Among those present at event for Jean Kennedy Smith was Joe Boland, former Clare County Manager who led the organisation of the civic reception for President Kennedy 50 years ago and who is the only person in the JFK painting living today.

Commenting at the event, Mr Boland, from Station Road, Ennis, said he was honoured to be back at Shannon Airport to meet the former ambassador 50 years after he welcomed her late brother to the airport and Co. Clare.  “Short of marrying my wife Catherine and the birth of our children, meeting President Kennedy was the greatest moment in my life and I am honoured to be here today, all those years later, to meet his sister.