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Connacht Tribune

Memories of JFK’s visit a stark contrast to opinions on modern-day US



The day that President Kennedy came to Galway in 1963 is fondly remembered, and as the years go by there is a tendency to remember it as a sunny day for Galwegians.

But in truth it was an unseasonably cold day, and the waves of Irish school children that greeted the president’s helicopter at the sports ground on the College Road were more shivering than shimmering.


As the motorcade was about to set off for Eyre Square, an ambitious young local photographer muscled his way in for a shot, drawing the attention of Secret Service agents who moved toward him like a threat.

In what would be an especially poignant moment, knowing now what would happen in Dallas just five months later, President Kennedy intervened, asking his security to back off, to let the photographer do his job.

“He’s a friend,” the president said of the stranger from Ireland.

It said a lot about Jack Kennedy, about the way he viewed people not just from Ireland, but from other countries in general. They weren’t strangers to be feared; they were friends not yet made.

As the great-grandchild of Irish immigrants, President Kennedy understood intuitively the way the Irish had come to America with little and gave and gained a lot. He was living proof that, given opportunities, immigrants from any and all countries, from any and all religious backgrounds, could rise and prosper in America. That was the compact that America made with its immigrants, and it always paid dividends.

President Kennedy made his bones as a politician the old fashioned way, with shoe leather. I was just a teenager the day he walked into my house in Charlestown in 1946, during a lull in Boston’s annual Bunker Hill Day parade. He was running for the seat in Congress formerly occupied by James Michael Curley, the quintessential Boston Irish pol. Curley, whose father left Oughterard for Boston, served four terms as mayor, three terms in Congress, one term as governor, and one term in the federal penitentiary.

Like Curley, Kennedy knew his power derived from the people, that to obtain power you needed to have a genuine mandate from the people, and to obtain that mandate you had to make a genuine effort to meet those people.

Jack Kennedy knew the people because he talked to them. And he respected them, because he saw in their struggle the struggle of his own forbears who left Ireland with little more than dreams.

“If the day was clear enough, and if you went down to the bay, and you looked west, and your sight was good enough, you would see Boston, Massachusetts,” President Kennedy told the crowd at Eyre Square 55 years ago. “And if you did, you would see down working on the docks there some Dohertys and Flahertys and Ryans and cousins of yours who have gone to Boston and made good.”

At that point, the president asked if anybody in the crowd had family in America.

Just about every hand in Eyre Square went up.

“I don’t know what it is about you that causes me to think that nearly everybody in Boston comes from Galway,” President Kennedy said. “They are not shy about it, at all.”

That wasn’t hyperbole. When running for Congress and later the Senate, President Kennedy would have pressed the flesh all over the greater Boston area and he would come to realize that what seemed like half of Rosmuc had relocated to South Boston.

The president concluded his remarks that day with words that stand in stark contrast to the message coming out of the White House these days.

“If you ever come to America,” he said, “come to Washington and tell them, if they wonder who you are at the gate, that you come from Galway. The word will be out and when you do, it will be Céad Míle Fáilte.”

If one of Galway’s sons or daughters arrived at the White House today and told anyone at the gate they were from Ireland, they might be locked up. The presumption, the official position of the Trump administration, is that every immigrant who shows up on America’s shores is there to take advantage not of the opportunity but of the American taxpayer.

Immigrants have been demonized, with xenophobic language and sentiment that flies in the face of the American experience, families separated in scenes that conjure fascist, inhumane regimes.

The empirical evidence suggests immigrants, on the whole, remain essential to the United States. Immigrants continue to be the backbone of our economy. Without them, food would rot in our fields. Hospital corridors would be unclean. Hotel beds would be unmade. Our elderly and infirm would have no minders.

But beyond the more modest jobs that first-generation immigrants fill, there is that promise, the one the Kennedys fulfilled, of rising, generation by generation, from the corridors of hospitals to the corridors of power, in boardrooms, in situation rooms.

President Trump has insulted and dehumanized immigrants of many cultures. He has instituted policies in which hard-working, tax-paying undocumented immigrants are rounded up while criminals who mostly victimize immigrant communities are too often conveniently ignored. And he has the cheek to dismiss so-called chain immigration as wrongheaded when his own family benefited from it.

Unfortunately, his demonization of immigrants resonates with a sizable minority of Americans, the same ones who voted for him in the first place. There has always been a nativist streak in American culture, one that ebbs and flows, and it has been on the rise, not just with Trump and his minions but in many European countries as well.

Nativists purposely and cynically ignore history. History tells us President Kennedy was right to look at a stranger, some young photographer from Galway, and assume he was a friend, not an unwanted interloper. And history tells us the great majority of Americans aspire to be more like President Kennedy than like President Trump.

■ Gerard Doherty spoke at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross. He is a former aide to President Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy and the author of “They Were My Friends: Jack, Bob and Ted.

Connacht Tribune

Hospitality group raises €90k



Lorraine Gallagher (left) and Charlene Hurley of Galway Hospice presented with a cheque for €27,537 by Brian Lynch and Eveanna Ryan of Connacht Hospitality.

The Connacht Hospitality Group this week announced that they raised more than €90,000 for a range of good Irish causes throughout 2022.

The group, which owns well-known Galway establishments including The Connacht Hotel, An Púcán, HYDE Hotel, Residence Hotel and 1520 Bar, as well as the Galway Bay Golf Resort, held a range of events at various stages of 2022 to fundraise for Claddagh Watch Patrol, the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI), Galway Hospice and Make-A-Wish Ireland.

The announcement of over €90,000 worth of funds raised by the Connacht Hospitality Group for national and local charities comes off the back of the past 12 months which saw the group aim to make Corporate Social Responsibility a core part of their identity. This focus allowed them to become more aware of the causes that need assistance while also raising the profile of many of the charities.

The group arranged a diverse array of events to raise funds, and had lots of imaginative ways of grabbing the public’s attention. One event saw people attend HYDE Bar to savour a menu made by a mystery celebrity. In the end, it was revealed that TV personality Gráinne Seoige was the Executive Chef on a night that generated over €8,000 for the NBCRI.

Another event saw staff take part in a ‘Sunrise Swim’ in Salthill – and the public donated in their droves. All money raised went towards Claddagh Watch Patrol, an organisation that works to make Galway’s waterways safer by preventing accidental death and suicide.

One of the most successful fundraisers was the Galway Bay Golf Resort’s Golf Classic, which raised over €22,000 for Galway Hospice.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Residents in fear of gangs travelling to rural Galway to burgle homes



Detective Superintendent Shane Cummins.

Residents in rural County Galway are living in fear of being burgled after one small area suffered at least 10 raids in the month of January.

Councillor Mary Hoade told a meeting of the County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) this week that those figures were for around Headford alone, as she called for additional resources to target travelling crime gangs visiting the county.

“Some of these burglaries are taking place in the morning when people go to work; some are in the evening; and others at night. It’s very frightening.  We recognise that these criminals are coming into the county, but we need more support to fight crime,” said Cllr Hoade.

“Rural garda stations have less resources . . . we’re relying on the resources in the nearest town,” she continued.

The Fianna Fáil councillor said gardaí couldn’t be everywhere at once, but communities needed to act as their eyes and ears and report suspicious activity when they see it. Detective Superintendent Shane Cummins (pictured) told the JPC that Galway was being targeted from time to time by travelling gangs.

“Three different gangs visited the county on one day recently,” said Det Supt Cummins.

Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) said she believed increased CCTV and automatic number plate recognition cameras – to capture known gangs on tour – should be rolled out.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

IDA Ireland’s €10m land purchase backs Oranmore for industry base



Former Mayor of County Galway, Liam Carroll.

IDA Ireland has trebled its footprint on the outskirts of Oranmore by purchasing more than 100 acres of land to support industry.

It’s understood the semi-state body purchased some 42.9 hectares on the outskirts of Oranmore, for a price in excess of €10 million.

The strategic purchase of land adjacent to some 21 hectares zoned ‘business and technology’ and already owned by the IDA, was a “major vote of confidence” in Oranmore and Galway, according Cathaoirleach of the Athenry/Oranmore Municipal District, County Councillor Liam Carroll (FG).

It brings the total amount of land owned by the IDA in the area to over 150 acres.

This latest parcel, purchased at the end of 2022, is located off the N67 Claregalway Road, to the north and east of the Galway to Dublin Rail line.

“It would be ideally suited and attractive to a major multinational company or companies for the establishment of a high tech, pharmaceutical or medical device type facility,” Cllr Carroll said.

The entire site of 150-plus acres is close to the M6 motorway, and an hour away from international links, Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport in Knock.  It is also close to a number of potential Park & Ride sites, identified by the National Transport Authority as being suitable for commuters.

It’s understood the land is zoned agricultural and would require a material alteration to the County Development Plan to be voted on by county councillors, in order for it to be rezoned before 2028.

(Photo: Cllr Liam Carroll, who believes the land could be developed for a tech or pharmaceutical hub).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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