CATHAOIRLEACH of Seanad Éireann, Senator Jerry Buttimer, today hosted a breakfast at Leinster House to mark the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s address to the Oireachtas.
On June 28, 1963, JFK became the first foreign dignitary to address both Houses of the Parliament during his trip to Ireland — the first serving US President to make the visit.
During his address in the Dáil Chamber, President Kennedy spoke proudly his Irish roots and of the historic links between the two countries, presenting the House with a flag of the Irish Brigade.
An infantry brigade in the Union Army during the American Civil War, it consisted predominantly of Irish Americans.
Speaking at today’s breakfast, Senator Buttimer said President Kennedy ’embodied the American spirit of opportunities for all’.
“Sixty years ago, President Kennedy became the first foreign leader to address the Houses of the Oireachtas,” he said.
“It was one of many firsts for President Kennedy. As the youngest elected president in the history of the United States, he embodied the American spirit of opportunities for all.
“In his speech, he highlighted the shared history of Ireland and the United States and spoke of the importance of strengthening and maintaining that relationship.
“I am delighted that we are looking back 60 years later with a positive report on progress in that area.”
Wednesday’s event not only commemorated the historic address by JFK but also celebrated the enduring strength of the connections between Ireland and the USA.
Invited guests include H.E. Clare Cronin, Ambassador of the USA to Ireland and Stephen Kennedy Smith, JFK’s nephew and a board member of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
Also in attendance was Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association, and members of the Irish-USA Parliamentary Friendship Group.
President Kennedy’s historic address was not only notable for being the first time a foreign dignitary had addressed both Houses of the Parliament.
It was also the first time the Dáil and Seanad sat in a formal joint sitting and was the first occasion in which television cameras recorded events in the Dáil Chamber.
You can watch JFK’s June 1963 address below.