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The Grief of a Nation

In 1963, Eamon Kennedy photographed a young girl crying, just after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Published beneath the headline "The Grief of a Nation", the photo became iconic. But it also changed lives - and those effects ripple on (2020)

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3.8/5 (101 ratings)

Pavel Barter

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Documentary Maker: Donal O'Herlihy

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The Grief of a Nation

The story of Eamon Kennedy, an Irish photojournalist who captured the events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Eamon's photograph of a young girl weeping outside Parkland Hospital, published beneath the headline "The Grief of a Nation", captured the mood not only of the United States, but of Ireland where JFK had visited only five months before his murder in Dallas, Texas, in 1963.

Eamon's photograph of Kathey Atkinson encapsulates a watershed moment that ushered in the violence and social upheaval, which is now associated with the latter half of the 1960's.

"If there ever was a photo worth a thousand words, it is that one," said Stephen Fagin, curator at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.

Eamon, born in Limerick city, arrived in Dallas almost by accident. In 1962, he was taking a Greyhound Bus across the country from Miami to San Francisco when he disembarked for a couple of days break in Dallas.

He never used the rest of his ticket.

Instead, he found a job at the Dallas Times Herald newspaper and a front row seat for one of the most momentous events in 20th Century history.

Alongside his poignant image at Parkland, Eamon photographed Lee Harvey Oswald, prior to Oswald's murder by Jack Ruby. He covered Ruby's subsequent trial and the Warren Commission's investigation into the President's killing.

Eamon's photographs were published in Dallas and in national magazines such as Life.

The Grief of a Nation is a story about life's strange serendipities and synchronicities. Many decades later, Eamon's photograph of Kathey Atkinson would come sharply into focus once again, illustrating the power of a single image to echo across time.

Narrated by Pavel Barter

Produced by Pavel Barter and Donal O'Herlihy.

Kathey Atkinson interview courtesy of Oral History Collection/The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas

Additional recordings: Derik Kennedy

This documentary has been funded through the BAI Sound & Vision Scheme

From RTÉ Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries

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