Remarks at a Reception in Limerick
Madam Mayor, Clergy, members of the City Council, fellow citizens of Limerick:
I want to express my thanks and also my admiration for the best speech that I have heard since I came to Europe, from your fine Mayor.
I asked your distinguished Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Kiernan-he has sort of an elfish look about him, but he is very, very good--I said, "What is this county noted for?" and he said, "It is noted for its beautiful women and its fast horses." And I said, "Well, you say that about every county." And he said, "No, this is true about this county."
I want to express my pleasure at seeing the Fitzgeralds. I wonder if they could stand up? One of them looks just like Grandpa, and that is a compliment.
This is the last place I go, and then I am going to another country, and then I am going to Italy, and then I am going back home to the United States. I wonder, before I go, if I could find out how many citizens here have relations in the United States? Do you think you could hold up your hand, if you do? No wonder there are so many of them over there.
Well, I will tell you, they have been among the best citizens and they behave themselves very well, and you would be proud of them. And they are proud of you. Even though a good many years have passed since most of them left, they still remain and retain the strongest sentiments of affection for this country. And I hope that this visit that we have been able to make on this occasion has reminded them not only of their past, but also that here in Ireland the word "freedom," the word "independence," the whole sentiment of a nation is perhaps stronger than it is almost any place in the world.
I don't think that I have passed through a more impressive ceremony than the one I experienced yesterday in Dublin when I went with the Prime Minister to put a wreath on the graves of the men who died in 1916. What to some countries and some people words of "freedom," words of "independence"--to see your President, who has played such a distinguished part, whose life is so tied up with the life of this island in this century--all this has made the past very real, and has made the present very hopeful.
So I carry with me as I go the warmest sentiments of appreciation to all of you. This is a great country, with a great people, and I know that when I am back in Washington, while I will not see you, I will see you in my mind and feel all of your good wishes, as we all will, in our hearts.
Last night somebody sang a song, the words of which I am sure you know, of "Come back to Erin, Mavourneen, Mavourneen, come back around to the land of thy birth. Come with the Shamrock in the springtime, Mavourneen." This is not the land of my birth, but it is the land for which I hold the greatest affection and I certainly will come back in the springtime.
Note: The President spoke at 1:30 p.m. at the Green Park Race Course after receiving the freedom of the city. His opening words "Madam Mayor" referred to Frances Condell, Mayor of Limerick. He later referred to his maternal grandfather, John F. Fitzgerald, onetime Mayor of Boston.
On the previous day in Dublin, as he recalled, the President had laid a wreath at Arbour Hill on the graves of leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.
John F. Kennedy, Remarks at a Reception in Limerick Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/237007