Friday 24 November 2017

Disappointment, but no regrets, at the 11th-hour will discovery

Jackie's correspondence with Fr Joe Leonard may be returned to the Kennedy family

Jackie and her husband JFK
Jackie and her husband JFK
Fr Leonard with Jackie Kennedy
Some of the letters between Jackie Kennedy and Fr Joseph Leonard.
Dr Patrick McDevitt, President of All hallows College
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

IT was past midnight at All Hallows College in Drumcondra. In the warren of archive rooms in the upper floors, the president, Fr Patrick McDevitt, and a small group of senior staff searched through the boxes and boxes of artefacts, diaries and ancient treasures looking for a document that would help determine the future of the cash-strapped college.

Six days had passed since the Irish Times had revealed the existence of the charming and revelatory correspondence between the beautiful American icon Jackie Kennedy and a Vincentian priest. The cash-strapped college planned to sell them at auction. Within days, disapproval, protests from the Kennedy family and an ugly legal spat dampened the heady excitement that met their discovery.

The college authorities had issued a statement defending its claim on the letters, explaining that Fr Joseph Leonard hadn't left a will. Given the international scrutiny and with "due diligence" ringing in his ears, Fr McDevitt and some trusted colleagues searched the archives one more time.

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