July 09, 1963
President John F. Kennedy on His Historic Trip to Ireland: “It Couldn't Have Been Better. We Loved It”
President Kennedy’s trip to Ireland was notable, publicly, in that it marked the first visit of an Irish-American President, the first of a Catholic President, and the first of a sitting President. It was notable, privately, in that no one traveling with him – including all his staff of Irish descent, two of his sisters, and his sister-in-law – had never seen him happier. Historian Arthur Schlesinger wrote that Kennedy was “never easier… more completely himself” than during this “blissful interlude of homecoming.” Visiting his relatives in New Ross, touring the modest ancestral homestead in Dunganstown, climbing out of his car, unprotected, into adoring mobs of people – Jack Kennedy was ecstatic. A press aide recalls seeing him running – running! – up the stairs of the American Embassy in Dublin to greet Lee Radziwill. “They love me in Ireland!” he exclaimed. This letter, written less than a week after his return home from Europe, recaps his excitement:
Now that I have returned to the United States and I look back on my visit to Ireland I find that I have nothing but pleasant memories. My visit there was definitely the highlight of my trip. I enjoyed seeing you and I want to thank you for your kindnesses not only during my stay, but previous to my arrival. I also appreciate your sending me a copy of "The Irish Times" - it helped me relive my visit to the homestead, as well [as] give me a pictorial review for my files… Dot: It couldn't have been better. We loved it - All of your countrymen were wonderful to us and so were you. I hope you get better soon and that you will come and see us here.
Kennedy signed his long autograph postscript, “Love, Jack” and added, as if not wanting to end the conversation, “How did they like us?”
Visiting Ireland, Kennedy said, were the three happiest days he’d ever spent in his life. Leaving on a cold and windy day, he promised he’d go back.
Typed Letter Signed (“Jack”), with a long autograph postscript, signed “Love, Jack”, as President, 2 pages, recto and verso, quarto, The White House, Washington, D.C., July 9, 1963. To Dot Tubridy in County Galway, Ireland. With typewritten transmittal envelope (bearing, in an unknown hand, a corrected address)