1960s:

Pat Brennan & JFK

Mr. Pat Brennan taught in the school for many years before his untimely death in 1980. Here, his son, Niall, writes about a remarkable trip his father made to Washington D.C. in 1963. Pat Brennan is the tall young man in the background, to the right of the picture.

In the summer of 1963 a group of national school teachers made a trip to Washington D.C. where time was given to them on visits to Capitol Hill and the White House. Prior to their departure, Mr Stephen Faller commissioned a Claddagh Ring that he gave to my father, to be presented to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (who sadly was to be assassinated just a few months later).

However, on their arrival in Washington, news spread that there had been a tragedy in the President’s family and maybe no meeting with the President would take place. The death had occurred of the First Family’s baby son, Patrick, and the sense of shock felt by everyone was unimaginable. By the time they had arrived on Capitol Hill a meeting with the President was highly unlikely. In the Capitol they met with politicians and senators and, as meeting the President was not happening, Dad made the decision to present the Claddagh Ring to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill.

From the Capitol they continued to the White House. When the President heard that a group of national school teachers from Galway was in the White House, even with the enormity of his personal loss and the political pressures he was under, he made a point of making time for them… and one was from St. Nicholas’ National School, Claddagh – my Dad, Pat Brennan.

Pat Brennan & JFK.
Courtesy of Niall Brennan.

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