Sunday 18 March 2018

Tubridy brings JFK visit to life for children

Ryan Tubridy has written his first book for children, focusing on President John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963
Ryan Tubridy has written his first book for children, focusing on President John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963

John Spain

Ryan Tubridy has written his first book for children, focusing on President John F Kennedy's visit to Ireland in 1963, seen through the eyes of a young boy called Patrick.

President Kennedy's trip to Ireland and his visit to his ancestral home in Dunganstown, Co Wexford, was a highly emotional time not just for the people of Ireland but for the President himself.  He described the trip as the best four days of his life. For a generation of Irish people, the visit had a lasting impact.

It is this feeling of excitement and emotion that Ryan Tubridy conjures up in his new book for children titled Patrick and the President.  He captures the feverish excitement in the build-up to JFK’s visit and the emotional wave that swept the country when the President was here – all evoked through the eyes of the young boy Patrick who wants to know, more than anything, what it would feel like to shake the President’s hand. 

The book is beautifully illustrated by P.J. Lynch, the leading children's book artist who has won numerous awards here, in the UK and the US and has worked with top children's authors like Eoin Colfer.  He is known for his meticulous research which brings impeccable detail to his evocative  illustrations. 

Ryan Tubridy knows the subject matter well, having already written an acclaimed book for adults titled JFK in Ireland - Four Days that changed a President, which was published in 2011 and won lavish praise from historians and critics. 

This retelling of the story through the young boy is historically accurate and centres on JFK’s visit to County Wexford, giving readers a very pure and personal take on that special day.  P.J Lynch’s masterful watercolour paintings are brimming over with the style and sensibility of 1960s Ireland and bring vividly to life the character of Patrick, his family, his school friends and the charismatic JFK.

About writing Patrick and the President, Ryan Tubridy says: “It has always been a dream of mine to write a book for children, so this is a magical moment for me. The fact that P.J. Lynch is illustrating the story makes it even more special. The story of JFK's visit to Ireland is profound and colourful and even more so through the eyes of my new fictional friend, Patrick, who gets caught up in the excitement of the event. The sight of a child reading a book is one of the most gratifying of them all. If children can enjoy this postcard from the past and maybe want to learn more about Irish history, I think we’ll have achieved something.”

On illustrating Patrick and the President, P.J. says, “President John F. Kennedy has always held a special place in the hearts and imaginations of the Irish people. I first encountered his handsome profile on a silver half dollar, brought from America by a visiting cousin; I was a little boy then and I knew nothing about his extraordinary life and career. However, I knew he was special, and I knew that he belonged to us, as well as to the people of America. It has been a great pleasure for me to work on Ryan’s story, and to help recreate the magic of those few days when President Kennedy visited Ireland and made a little boy’s dream came true."

No date has been set so far for the publication of the new book which is coming from the leading British publisher Walker Books.

Irish Independent

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