Thursday 22 February 2018

Presents for the president

EVERYWHERE JFK went during his Irish visit, he was festooned with gifts – silver goblets, lace handkerchiefs and even a puppy were among the presents he received. He also received honorary degrees and scrolls granting him the freedom of the cities he visited.

EVERYWHERE JFK went during his Irish visit, he was festooned with gifts – silver goblets, lace handkerchiefs and even a puppy were among the presents he received. He also received honorary degrees and scrolls granting him the freedom of the cities he visited.

In many cases, the gifts were presented by the Irish government not to President Kennedy personally, but to the government of the United States.

However, all had a particularly Irish flavour and included historical documents, knitwear and examples of fine art and craftsmanship.

Many are held in the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, and went on public display in a 2006 exhibition called 'A Journey Home: John F Kennedy in Ireland'. Others, small mementos of little value, were kept by the family.


Among the finest gifts JFK received was a silver goblet made in Dublin in 1805, and engraved with a message of welcome. It was kept in the Oval Office, and the White House gardener was instructed to place a fresh flower in it every day.

A Waterford crystal pedestal vase was presented by the New Ross Harbour Commissioners, depicting an Irish homestead, immigrant ship and the White House.

A lace handkerchief of Venetian Rose point lace was given to Jackie Kennedy, and a crochet lace bag to daughter Caroline.

Rock from the Giant's Causeway in Co Antrim was also presented.


His cousin, Jimmy Ryan, presented him with a silver-embossed Irish blackthorn walking stick cut from a tree growing on the homestead.

A white lamb rug and pair of white woollen blankets were produced from an animal reared on the farm.


President Kennedy was made an Honorary Freeman of Wexford, and was presented with a certificate. It was kept in a chest of gilt silver, which depicted the Kennedy coat of arms, the Great Seal of the United States and the Seal of Wexford.

The Wexford county GAA board also presented a Leinster Harp plaque of gilt silver, mounted on Connemara marble.

The Convent of Mercy presented a pair of embroidered white linen table cloths.


President Kennedy received a replica of the Great Galway Mace, the symbol of the office of mayor, from the Galway Chamber of Commerce. The head shows the arms of Queen Anne and the badges of England, Scotland, Ireland and France.

A certificate honouring JFK as a freeman of Galway was also presented.

The certificate was contained in a casket made from gilt silver and mounted on a base of Connemara marble.

A large stone of basalt rock taken from the Giant's Causeway, mounted on a wooden base, was presented on behalf of the people of north Antrim.

A local woodturner, Albert O'Toole (26), from Canal Road, produced a carving in Irish walnut of Jackie Kennedy.


President Kennedy was presented with a scroll awarding him the Freedom of the City.

The scroll is contained in a casket of silver gilt, marble and wood. A rectangular box with hinged lid and tapered sides, each end bears a harp and the Great Seal of the United States is flanked by incised shamrocks.


JFK received a certificate of the Freedom of the City with the seals of Limerick and the Kennedy coat of arms.

A Freedom of the City casket was also presented in mahogany and silver.

President Kennedy was also presented with a cocker spaniel pup by his cousins, the Barry family of Caherconlish. The pup wore a gold shamrock-decorated collar, and was given as a gift to his daughter Caroline.

The nuns of the Good Shepherd Convent in Limerick presented a Limerick lace christening robe.


President Kennedy was presented with an Irish claret jug by a local councillor.


The Taoiseach gave the original Treaty of Ormonde between the Earl of Ormonde and John O'Kennedy, dated from March 5, 1336. It contains the first mention of the Kennedy family in Irish history. It states that an agreement had been reached concerning burnings, spoils, homicides and other transgressions committed by the parties involved. O'Kennedy also agreed to serve the earl in his army.

Sean Lemass also presented the president with a Carrickmacross lace napkin, one of a set of 36.


A book of highlights, 'A Memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Visit to Ireland', was presented with the inscription: "With fond recollections, Eamon de Valera." It was bound in red leather and stamped with gold.

Mrs de Valera presented JFK with an antique silver dish ring stand in silver, made in 1769 in Dublin. It is engraved with two pheasants among flowers and a cartouche with a crest flanked by a figure on the left and a wolf on the right.


The National Council of the Blind of Ireland presented JFK with a gift of an antique quilt, handwoven in Mountmellick lace.

Galway Bay Products produced a set of Loch Garman handknit cardigans for President Kennedy and his family.

The United States Chamber of Commerce presented a case of Irish poplin ties.

Irish Independent

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