Tonight marks the night before the assassination of John F. Kennedy fifty years ago and, for all sorts of reasons, he has been on my mind all day.
I was too young in 1963 to realise exactly what was unfolding but as I grew up I learned more and more about the extent to which the Kennedy family was connected to ours. In short, my uncle, Captain Michael Tubridy, who was a world class show jumper developed a friendship with the Kennedys through his many trips to the US back in the late 1940’s and after he was killed in a freak riding accident in 1952, his widow, Dorothy was embraced by the Kennedys.
Today, I was looking through my late father’s scrapbooks and came across this photograph of Dorothy which was taken just before she departed to attend JFK’s inauguration as President. I suspect the photograph was in the Irish Times but I can’t be sure:
Recently, I took the Emigrant Trail in Co. Wexford, which tells The Kennedy Story. The Kennedy Homestead in Dunganstown was particularly poignant as it brings one back to the place where JFK’s great-grandfather, Patrick, lived before leaving for America in 1848. JFK paid a visit to his ancestral home on June 27th, 1963, just a few short months before he was killed.
The Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross, from where Patrick Kennedy sailed, has also stayed very much with me as it highlights the horrific conditions which were associated with emigration back in 1848, when it took up to six weeks to cross the Atlantic. The death rates on the ‘Coffin Ships’ were as high as 50% in some cases. http://www.dunbrody.com/
In overall terms, it is very clear that JFK’s memory will live long in the collective memory of Irish people and, through Uncle Michael, in that of our extended family.