FIFTY years after its opening, JFK Memorial School has unveiled a new monument to the American president after whom it is named.
The honours were performed by Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy at a ceremony attended by pupils and staff past and present and supporters of the Ennis Road school.
The memorial captures the faith John F. Kennedy, the youngest man ever elected to the White House, put in young people with his words: “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future”.
It includes a figure in bronze of a boy reading a book beside a globe. And a commemorative garden has also been developed to better set off the sculpture.
It was former Holy Rosary parish priest Monsignor Michael Moloney who founded the school as JFK Memorial in 1964 - a year after the president’s visit to Limerick and his assassination in Dallas. Sadly, Monsignor Moloney himself had died in car crash by the time the school opened in 1965.
Fifty years on, JFK has 230 boys enrolled and principal Dalach Carey said every effort was being made to make them aware of how the school got its name.
“If they weren’t before now, they certainly are now because we have had a great information-fest, if you like, on JFK and all the teachers did work with the boys on the 1960s and that era,” Mr Carey said.
“We are very conscious of our Kennedy links and even last year we had a visit from Rory Kennedy, daughter of Bobby Kennedy, who was born subsequent to Bobby’s death. In the past we have had Jean Kennedy Smith, JFK’s sister, visit the school at the time of the Clinton visit. There has been a long association with the Kennedy family and we are very proud of our connections.”
Among those present for the unveiling were Mayor Michael Sheahan, former principal Frank Davis and past pupil Peter Power, now director of UNICEF Ireland and who was on his way to Nepal as part of the response to the earthquake there. Another past pupil, newly ordained Bishop of Waterford Alphonsus Cullinan, also sent his best wishes.
Mr Carey said that as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, the school was also planning a publication later in the year and was actively seeking photographs and memorabilia. They can be sent by post to JFK Memorial School, Ennis Road, Limerick, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or handed in at reception.