Jackie Kennedy letters returned to Kennedy family
Letters written by Jackie Kennedy to an Irish priest have been returned to her family.
The development was confirmed today by the Vincentian religious order, which had held possession of the letters since they were withdrawn from auction last May.
The order had objected to the letters being sold by the cash-strapped All Hallows College in Dublin.
The 33 letters, written by the wife of the assassinated US president John F Kennedy to Fr Joseph Leonard in the 1950s and 1960s, had been expected to make anywhere between €800,000 and €3m for the college.
After the auction was cancelled, the college announced it would be closing down.
The letters have huge historical significance and deal with key moments in Mrs Kennedy’s life, including her engagement and her husband’s death.
Her unlikely friendship with Fr Leonard began when she met him on a visit to Ireland in 1950 and continued until his death in 1964.
But the auction was cancelled after Fr Leonard’s will was found in college archives, proving the letters did not belong to the college but to the Vincentian Order of which he was a member.
Until now the provincial of the order, Eamon Devlin, had refused to say what would become of the letters.
But a statement issued on behalf of the order this afternoon read: “The Vincentian Fathers wish to confirm that private letters, written by the late Mrs Jacqueline Kennedy to our deceased confrere Fr Joseph Leonard, have been transferred to the Kennedy family.
“This has taken place with regard to the respect due to what is correspondence of a private nature.”
The order did not disclose if any financial arrangement was involved.