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Moving tribute to 'Ireland's great friend'

JOHN F Kennedy was remembered in Dublin as a "great friend to Ireland" whose untimely death represented "one of the darkest of days".

A group of Irish army cadets who served at the late president's funeral were among those present at a commemoration ceremony in Dublin yesterday.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and US Charge d'Affaires Stuart Dwyer laid wreaths at the US embassy in Ballsbridge.

During a moving ceremony, members of the 36th and 37th cadet classes of the Defence Forces saluted as the Stars and Stripes was lowered.

It was the 36th cadet class that had the job of welcoming President Kennedy to Ireland at the start of his momentous visit in June 1963.

And members of the 37th cadet class served as part of a guard of honour at his funeral in Arlington cemetery less than five months later.


Mr Dwyer described John F Kennedy as "a president who could inspire".

Mr Gilmore said the president's assassination will remain "etched indelibly" in the memory of the Irish people.

"It is particularly sad for us as Irish people, given the special place which President Kennedy held in all our hearts," Mr Gilmore said.

"Just a few short months prior to his untimely death, we had rejoiced together with him and his family during his memorable visit to these shores in June 1963.

"It was a visit that brought Ireland and the United States together in a rare and moving way."

The Labour leader, who was accompanied by Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe, said the event was held in order to remember the "horror" of the assassination.

"The fact that he had been here just a few short months before, the fact that he had talked about coming back, he had said things that were so inspirational – not just for Ireland but for the rest of the world," he said