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Sunday 8 December 2019

Jackie Kennedy's Irish letters lay untouched in safe for 50 years

Fr Joseph Leonard and Jackie Kennedy
Fr Joseph Leonard and Jackie Kennedy
An extract from the letters
President Kennedy and wife Jackie
President John F Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy in 1961
One day in Dallas: Jackie arriving at Love Field in that pink suit with JFK on November 22, 1963.

Anita McSorley

Jackie Kennedy’s letters to Fr Joseph Leonard lay in a safe at All Hallow’s College for over 50 years after his death in 1964.

The 33 letters were made public in February after two staff members of All Hallow’s College attended a valuation event at the Hibernian Club on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green that was hosted by Sheppard’s Irish Auction House, a source told

The sequence of events which led to the discovery of the letters from Jackie Kennedy started when a valuer and expert in rare books - Owen Felix O'Neill - was approached about a valuation.

It was subsequently discovered that the book inquests was a rare medieval Book of Hours from around 1460.

It's believed it belonged to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and the book was housed in All Hallow's College in Drumcondra, North Dublin.

Upon this discovery, Mr O'Neill was invited to the college to see if there were any other treasures on thier premises. 

It is understood that Owen Felix O’Neill, a valuer and expert in rare books, was shown a book from the college library for valuation.

It's understood the cache of letters from Jackie Kennedy to Fr Joseph Leonard were first found earlier this year.

The letters lay untouched in a safe from 1964, the year Fr Leonard died, a source told

Sheppard's Auction House in Co Laois were informed after the letters, cards and photographs were valued.

The letters were written between 1950 to 1964.

Mrs Kennedy - then Jacqueline Bouvier - started corresponding with Fr Leonard in 1950, prior to her engagement to John F Kennedy.

The period covers huge influential events - including her engagement to the then Senator Kennedy and his assassination in 1963.

Separatedly, Philip Sheppard, of Sheppard's Auction House, told the letters are “creating huge international media interest”, with the main US television and newspapers reporting their contents.

He expects them to sell in excess of  €1 million when the auction, which will be live online, takes place on June 10th.

Irish Independent

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