It is almost 50 years since then-US President John F Kennedy visited Ireland and to mark the occasion, Ireland’s State broadcaster RTÉ has chronicled the visit in a major online exhibition consisting of more than 50 film clips, as well as audio and documents from the station’s archives.
The charismatic young Irish-American president’s visit in June 1963 took place a year after RTÉ was founded. Tragically, Kennedy was gunned down in Texas just five months later in November 1963.
The JFK exhibition is broken into six parts detailing the preparation for the president’s visit right through to his untimely death.
The launch of the exhibition coincides with a National Library talk by chat-show host Ryan Tubridy on 9 July. A Twitter conversation has also been started using the hashtag #jfkhomecoming
“As broadcasters, we were instrumental in amplifying the events during this visit, which put us firmly on the world stage,” said Brid Dooley, head of RTÉ Archives.
“The visit occurred during an era which, according to JFK himself ‘saw Ireland moving into the mainstream of current world events’.
“This exhibition will allow widespread access to this material and enable every generation to enjoy what was an extraordinary spectacle that captured both the heart and imagination of Ireland for four days in June 1963,” Dooley said.
Preserving Ireland’s memories
The RTÉ Archives is a central repository for all RTÉ broadcasts in TV and radio and is regarded as the largest collection of audiovisual material in Ireland.
The archive houses manuscripts, still photography and thousands of hours of moving images and sound recordings of moments that have shaped Irish history.
RTÉ is also working on a big data project with the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in Galway and the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) to make sure all of this content going back over 60 years can be accessed digitally.