EPIC Museum to mark 60 years since JFK’s historic visit to Ireland

John F Kennedy greets well-wishers during his visit to Ireland in 1963

Amy Donohoe

Dublin’s EPIC Museum will mark 60 years since John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland with a new exhibition.

Homecoming: JFK in Ireland, has been created in collaboration with the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in memory of JFK’s arrival on Irish shores six decades ago.

This curated exhibition delves into the cultural and political significance of Kennedy’s four-day trip in 1963, using original documents, photography, and oral history interviews.

It conveys what the visit meant to politicians and onlookers, the purpose it served during a time of national transition, and how international observers perceived the event.

The visit itself was filled with fanfare and joyous scenes as Kennedy was welcomed by large crowds in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and in New Ross and Wexford, his family’s ancestral county.

Nathan Mannion, Head of Exhibitions and Programmes at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, said: “Although there are many US Presidents who can lay claim to Irish roots, JFK is probably the most well-known.

“When he visited Ireland in 1963, the entire nation was won over by his charm, charisma, and genuine affection for the Irish people.

“Of course, the visit also had a significant impact on Irish and US politics, with President Kennedy delivering the first official address by a foreign Head of State to the joint houses of the Oireachtas.”

A new exhibition in the EPIC Museum will mark 60 years since JFK's visit to Ireland

The exhibition, which opens on June 7, will highlight the pivotal role Kennedy’s visit played in strengthening Irish-American relations and shaping a new era of optimism for the country.

Rachel Flor, Executive Director, John F Kennedy Library Foundation, said: “President Kennedy relished his Irish heritage.

“From the time he was a young boy, he loved to hear stories of his great-grandparents who all migrated to Boston during the famine of the late 1840s.

“As President, his return to Ireland was a homecoming he later described as one of the most moving experiences of his life.

“We’re grateful to partner with EPIC and the Department of Foreign Affairs to tell the story of this seminal moment in President Kennedy’s life and in Irish history.”

The themes of the exhibition will range from Ireland’s rapid modernisation in 1963 to the pomp and ceremony surrounding the visit.

It also explores JFK’s Irish heritage and the history of his ancestors, tracing the Kennedys’ rise to power and influence.