President John F Kennedy leaving Cork City Hall during his visit to Ireland in June 1963

Local hero: President John F Kennedy leaving Cork City Hall during his visit to Ireland in June 1963 (above), and with the then Irish Prime Minister, Sean Lemass (below).

The visit is remembered as a public relations triumph both for Kennedy and for Ireland and included a visit to his ancestral home in New Ross, Wexford. It is, however, a bittersweet memory, since he met his death in Dallas only five months later.

Although President Clinton can be confident of a warm welcome, he can never hope to recreate the adoration and adulation afforded to JFK. As the first Catholic president of the United States, Kennedy was an even greater hero in Ireland than elsewhere. His visit seemed to symbolise a new, outgoing mood in the Republic. Kennedy said: "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."

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