July 25, 2012
“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE” XII
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 writes that during a small & informal dinner on his last night in Ireland, JFK told Bean de Valera, the wife of Ireland’s president, that he would be leaving her country from Shannon* Airport the next day.
*Shannon, on the Shannon River in western Ireland, was built in the 1960s on reclaimed marshland near the airport. The city, whose airport was the world’s 1st duty free airport, is located in County Clare.
Mrs. de Valera recited a poem about the Shannon River.
JFK wrote the lines on a couple of place cards, memorized the words the next morning & recited the poem as he said good-bye at the airport.**
**‘Tis the Shannon’s brightly glancing stream,
Brightly gleaming, silent in the morning beam, oh! the sight entrancing.
Thus return from travels long, years of exile, years of pain
To see Old Shannon’s face again,
O’er the waters glancing.’
On the way to the airport, two stops were made, one at Galway & the other at Limerick.***
***see JFK Visits Galway at www.jfk50.blogspot.com/2011/06/jfk-visits-galway-limerick.html
80,000 people were waiting for JFK at the city square in GALWAY.
At Limerick he said:
“Last night somebody sang a song, the words of which I am sure you know, ‘Come back to Erin…..come back arue to the land of thy birth, come with the shamrock in the springtime…’.
This is not the land of my birth, but it is the land for which I hold the greatest affection, & I will certainly come back in the springtime.”
Kenny tells us that as they drove across the field to AF1, he saw someone with a sign bearing the title of another popular Irish song, a sad ballad about a young man who left his girl to go to war where he would be killed.
Kenny remembers that when they were bringing the President’s body back to Washington, D.C. from Dallas, he thought of that sign & added “I think of it often now.”
The sign bore these words:
“JOHNNY, I HARDLY KNEW YE.”