KENNEDY, John Fitzgerald. Original Photograph of US President, John F. Kennedy Addressing the Dáil on 28th June, 1963.
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On original large mount. 240 x 185mm. (photograph size). A rare item in very good condition. Together with: KENNEDY, John Fitzgerald. Joint Sitting of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann on the Occasion of the Visit of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America, Friday, 28th June, 1963. Dublin: Stationary Office, 1963. First edition. Octavo. Green cloth, titled in gilt. A fine copy.
US President John F Kennedy is seen addressing the Dáil in this historic photo. Ceann Comhairle at the time, Patrick Hogan from Clare, told JFK in his introduction that his "great personality" elevated the meet above an ordinary level. He added: "When the citizen who presides over the great American people of the United States shares with the people of Ireland the heritage of blood, of name and tradition, then the event is enhanced almost beyond measure." Kennedy presented the House with the flag of the Irish Brigade, who fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, led by Thomas Francis Meagher. Mr. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America, then delivered his address: "Mr. Speaker, Prime Minister, Members of the Parliament: I am grateful for your welcome and for that of your countrymen.
The 13th day of September, 1862, will be a day long remembered in American history. At Fredericksburg, Maryland, thousands of men fought and died on one of the bloodiest battlefields of the American Civil War. One of the most brilliant stories of that day was written by a band of 1,200 men who went into battle wearing a green sprig in their hats. They bore a proud heritage and a special courage, given to those who had long fought for the cause of freedom. I am referring, of course, to the Irish Brigade. General Robert E. Lee, the great military leader of the Southern Confederate forces, said of this group of men after the battle: "The gallant stand which this bold brigade made on the heights of Fredericksburg is well known. Never were men so brave. They ennobled their race by their splendid gallantry on that desperate occasion. Their brilliant, though hopeless, assaults on our lines excited the hearty applause of our officers and soldiers" ... As you can see, gentlemen, the battle honours of the Brigade include Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Yorktown, Fair Oaks, Gaines Hill, Allen's Farm, Savage's Station, White Oak Bridge, Glendale, Malvern Hills, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Bristoe's Station. I am deeply honoured to be your guest in the free Parliament of a free Ireland. If this nation had achieved its present political and economic stature a century or so ago, my great grandfather might never have left New Ross, and I might, if fortunate, be sitting down there with you. Of course, if your own President had never left Brooklyn, he might be standing up here instead of me ... I am proud to be the first American President to visit Ireland during his term of office, proud to be addressing this distinguished assembly, and proud of the welcome you have given me. My presence and your welcome, however, only symbolise the many and the enduring links which have bound the Irish and the Americans since the earliest days. Benjamin Franklin, the envoy of the American Revolution, who was also born in Boston, was received by the Irish Parliament in 1772. It was neither independent nor free from discrimination at the time, but Franklin reported its members "disposed to be friends of America. By joining our interest with theirs, he said, a more equitable treatment ... might be obtained for both nations."
And so it is that our two nations, divided by distance, have been united by history. No people ever believed more deeply in the cause of Irish freedom than the people of the United States. And no country contributed more to building my own than your sons and daughters. They came to our shores in a mixture of hope and agony, and I would not underrate the difficulties of their course once they arrived in the United States. They left behind hearts, fields, and a nation yearning to be free. It is no wonder that James Joyce described the Atlantic as a bowl of bitter tears, and an earlier poet wrote: "They are going, going, going, and we cannot bid them stay." But today this is no longer the country of hunger and famine that those immigrants left behind. It is not rich and its progress is not yet complete, but it is, according to statistics, one of the best fed countries in the world. Nor is it any longer a country of persecution, political or religious. It is a free country, and that is why any American feels at home. There are those who regard this history of past strife and exile as better forgotten, but to use the phrase of Yeats: "Let us not casually reduce that great past to a trouble of fools, for we need not feel the bitterness of the past to discover its meaning for the present and the future."
And it is the present and the future of Ireland that today hold so much promise to my nation as well as to yours, and, indeed, to all mankind, for the Ireland of 1963, one of the youngest of nations, and the oldest of civilisations, has discovered that the achievement of nationhood is not an end, but a beginning. In the years since independence, you have undergone a new and peaceful revolution, an economic and industrial revolution, transforming the face of this land, while still holding to the old spiritual and cultural values. You have modernised your economy, harnessed your rivers, diversified your industry, liberalised your trade, electrified your farms, accelerated your rate of growth, and improved the living standard of your people ... Over 150 years ago, Henry Grattan, demanding the more independent Irish Parliament that would always bear his name, denounced those who were satisfied merely by new grants of economic opportunity. "A country," he said, "enlightened as Ireland, chartered as Ireland, armed as Ireland, and injured as Ireland, will not be satisfied with anything less than liberty." And today, I am certain, free Ireland, a full-fledged member of the world community, where some are not yet free, and where some counsel an acceptance of tyranny - free Ireland will not be satisfied with anything less than liberty ... This is an extraordinary country. George Bernard Shaw, speaking as an Irishman, summed up an approach to life: "Other peoples," he said, "see things and say: `Why?' ... But I dream things that never were - and I say: `Why not?".
The central issue of freedom, however, is between those who believe in self-determination and those in the East who would impose upon others the harsh and oppressive Communist system; and here your nation wisely rejects the role of a go-between or a mediator. Ireland pursues an independent course in foreign policy, but it is not neutral between liberty and tyranny and never will be." And let them remember, as I heard sung by your sons and daughters yesterday in Wexford, the words: "The boys of Wexford, who fought with heart and hand, to burst in twain the galling chain and free our native land."
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