July 21, 2012
“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” VIII
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy. It is published by Little, Brown & Company.
The title of Chapter 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”
Kenneth O’Donnell tells about JFK’s visit to NEW ROSS, an Irish port town on the River Barrow.
He says that Irish children dressed in white sweaters “were stretched out on the green grass of the park below the descending helicopters, spelling out FAILTE, the Gaelic work for welcome.”
After landing, another group of children sang “The Boys of Wexford,” one of JFK’s favorite songs.
‘We are the boys of Wexford, who fought with heart & hand to burst in twain the galling chain & free our native land.’
In New Ross, JFK said to a very friendly audience:
“When my great-grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston, he carried nothing with him except two things, a strong religious faith & a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his great-grandchildren have valued that inheritance.”
The President’s party then went to MARY KENNEDY RYAN’S* cottage on the old Kennedy farm at Dunganstown.
*Mary Kennedy Ryan was JFK’s second cousin.
There JFK visited wtih Mrs. Ryan in her cottage & enjoyed a cup of tea.
“We want to drink a cup of tea to all the Kennedys who went & all those who stayed.”
In addition to the tea, JFK was given a large Irish whisky, but Kenny says that he handed it behind his back to Dave Powers who “knocked (it off) obediently & handed the empty glass back to the President.”