01: President Kennedy in Ireland

Experience President Kennedy's visit to Ireland in 1963 and relive the shock and reaction to his death 5 months later.

In June 1963, John F. Kennedy became the first serving President of the USA to visit Ireland. He came to visit the land of his ancestors while on a European tour, flying to Dublin from Berlin after delivering his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, in which he talked about the struggle for freedom and the threat of communism. Themes he would return to in his Irish speeches.

For RTÉ radio and television coverage of the four day presidential visit would be a huge challenge. Telefís Éireann, as RTÉ television was then called, was only on air 18 months and now had to provide live broadcasts from a variety of locations and with multiple cameras. The president was to travel from venue to venue by helicopter meaning broadcast facilities would have to be in place at each location. Additional mobile units were borrowed from other companies including the BBC who also provided advice on the live outside broadcast of major events.

Featured here are all the major events in President Kennedy’s visit, from his motorcade through Dublin city on the night of his arrival to his departure from Shannon four days later. Watch the enjoyment had by all when the President took tea at the Kennedy ancestral farm in Dunganstown, Co. Wexford. Following special permission, television cameras were allowed inside the Dáil chambers for the first when President Kennedy became the first foreign leader to address the Houses of the Oireachtas. There were solemn scenes at Arbour Hill where the president placed a wreath on the grave of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. In Limerick, Lord Mayor Frances Condell was praised by the president for her amusing welcoming speech.

Huge crowds greeted him everywhere he went, and the radio clips in particular give a flavour of the atmosphere and excitement created throughout the country.

In November 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The final part of the exhibition looks at reaction to the president's death in Ireland and RTÉ coverage of his funeral.