Making the first visit to Eire of any American President during his term of office, Mr John F Kennedy arrived in Dublin from Germany last night for his three-day stay in the Republic.
On the eight-mile route between the airport and central Dublin there were signs everywhere that this was looked on by the Irish as a homecoming. In truth it was – but linked by four generations.
It was more than 100 years ago that Patrick Kennedy, the President’s great-grandfather, emigrated from Wexford to the United States.
Irish tricolours and the Stars and Stripes festooned the President’s route, with signs proclaiming the greeting “Welcome back JFK”.
Police reinforcements were brought in from outside Dublin to help control the crowd. Mr De Valera, President of Eire, began his speech welcoming Mr Kennedy by saying in Gaelic: “In the name of the people of Ireland, welcome – a hundred thousand welcomes.”
A group of North Antrim people will drive south to Dublin today. Their purpose is to present President Kennedy a stone from the Giant’s Causeway. The stone, mounted on a mahogany base, bears the inscription: “To J F Kennedy from the people of North Antrim.”
It will be recalled that earlier this year the president was asked to open the Causeway, but had to turn down the invitation because the visit could not fit in with his schedule. One of the North Antrim group, Mr Joseph Laverty, a Ballycastle councillor, said yesterday that the idea arose when a number of people suggested that, although the President could not visit the Causeway he should, nevertheless, have a part of it to take back to the States.
[Before arriving in Dublin, JFK had earlier in the day delivered his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in West Berlin.]