Limerick home for JFK’s pup

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald

The Kennedy family with Shannon the cocker spaniel in John Jnr's arms
THERE has been a new lead in the story of the cocker spaniel which was presented to JFK by his Limerick cousin.

THERE has been a new lead in the story of the cocker spaniel which was presented to JFK by his Limerick cousin.

The former US president’s wife, Jackie, sent one of the dog’s pups back to his cousins - the Barrys of Caherconlish, as a gift.

At the end of his memorable visit to Limerick in 1963, JFK departed from Shannon for London, with a number of gifts including a cocker spaniel pup.

The dog, which wore a gold shamrock-decorated collar, was given to him by his third cousin, Imelda Barry from Caherconlish. It was a gift for his only daughter Caroline.

“The dog was named Shannon. He was black and white and where ever the Kennedys went – he went. He was the family pet,” explained a member of the Barry family this week. “You would see him in photos playing with the kids.”

Imelda, who now lives in Ballybunion, was living in Caherconlish with her husband John, the local vet, at the time. She remains a friend of the Kennedy family to this day.

“Imelda is JFK’s third cousin on the Fitzgerald side of the family. She bred champion cocker spaniels – that was her hobby,” said the relative. She was a judge of competitions.”

It was a source of great delight therefore, when, after giving Shannon to JFK as a gift, his wife Jackie sent back one of his pups.

“A few years later Jackie sent back one of Shannon’s puppies to Imelda and the Barry family. They called him Rocky,” said the relative.

Imelda met widow Jackie when she visited Ireland with Caroline and John Jr in 1967.

Last Friday, Imelda travelled to Bruff to meet Caroline who was in Ireland to retrace her family roots on the Fitzgerald side.

During his visit to Limerick on June 29, 1963, her father, JFK, received a certificate of the Freedom of the City with the seals of Limerick and the Kennedy coat of arms.

A Freedom of the City casket was also presented in mahogany and silver.

The nuns of the Good Shepherd Convent in Limerick also presented the president with a Limerick lace christening robe.

His wife Jackie was pregnant at the time.