independent

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Object that 'shot' JFK on famous visit

Dnal Nolan

Published 27/11/2013 | 05:36

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HE owns the very thing that was used to shoot US President JFK and, 50 years after the assasination of the US President, people are coming from all around to see it.

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HE owns the very thing that was used to shoot US President JFK and, 50 years after the assasination of the US President, people are coming from all around to see it.

But this rare piece of memorabilia isn't the gun fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, instead it's one of the TV cameras used to film JFK's legendary visit to Berlin on June 26, 1963.

The TV camera is now owned by Beale native Liam O'Hainnin who displays it in the Farvis Television Museum in Pfungstadt - a museum of broadcasting history that he owns and runs outside the German city of Darmstadt.

Securing the camera for his museum was a major coup, resulting in massive German media interest on the 50th anniversary of the legendary President's murder.

Liam obtained the equipment from a cameraman who was clearing out his house.

"I got it from a retired cameraman who was going into an old folks' home and who rang me from Munich saying he would like to sell it," said Liam. After that he didn't waste time: "I drove the next morning the 300 miles to Munich and back that evening with the camera, all the lenses and other pieces of equipment!"

This north Kerry native has certainly taken the road less travelled in the past decades. He left Beale in the mid 1970s, at a time that was as economically bleak as today. But little did he think he would still be living in Germany so many years later.

"I came to Germany when the Irish economy was in tatters and jobs were hard to get. I had been unemployed for a while and was looking around for an opportunity and decided to emigrate to Germany when I saw an ad in the newspaper looking for carpenters there," he said.

"My plan had been to work for a while there and then come home, but I'm still here 35 years later!"

Liam's love of broadcasting equipment comes from a childhood fascination with radio - sparked by his grandfather William Hannon's ownership of one of the first wireless sets in Beale.

He moved to Pfungstadt on the outskirts of Darmstadt 20 years ago and today owns one of the most comprehensive private museums of broadcasting equipment in Europe. He hopes to bring the collection home to north Kerry on his retirement. In the meantime, Liam will continue to come home for the salmon-fishing season in Beale each summer.

Kerryman

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