JFK - The Three Miles

In June 1963, President John F. Kennedy made a visit which would change America and the rest of the world's perception of Ireland forever. Kennedy referred to his visit to Ireland as “the best four days of his life”.

One of those days, June 29th, was spent in Galway, known for its long winding promenade, beauti- ful beaches and traditional Gaeltacht culture of music, dancing and Irish language.

Told through the eyes of residents who were present on the day, the film recalls the euphoric ex- citement felt within the local community. Nobody in Galway had ever experienced such privilege before, nor had they felt such an atmosphere, and they’d certainly never met someone as famous as the President of the United States.

From the excitement of seeing a helicopter for the first time as the presidential entourage landed on the sports ground, to the cheers of crowds lining the streets and the footsteps of local children Irish dancing, the visit had an unforgettable impact on the people of Galway. Now, for the first time, they share their stories of the day they met Kennedy with the world, and how their distinct, Western Irish culture charmed him – and how he charmed them.
Norrie Quinn was thirteen when the President visited her home town, and was one of the Irish dancers tasked with entertaining him in Eyre Square, the beating heart of Galway City. She recalls the nerves she felt over getting her steps wrong. Carmel Kenny was in her fourth year of national school when she was chosen to form part of the human flag for the President's arrival; she shares her pleasant surprise at his relaxed demeanour, and how he shunned his security staff to say hello to the children. Meanwhile, Stan Shields, a journalist from local Galway newspaper The Connacht Tribune, speaks of Kennedy’s down to earth nature, and fondly recalls the President calling him a ‘friend’. Anthony Ryan speaks of the Kennedy’s kindness, as he stopped his motorcade at the fami- ly’s home on the three mile drive to Salthill, Galway’s promenade, simply to wish Ryan’s elderly mother well, and shake her hand.
Following Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, at the request of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Galway man Commandant Leo Quinlan was invited to attend the funeral amongst world leaders. Quinlan acted as one of the twenty-six to provide a guard of honour at the President’s graveside. In the documentary, he speaks candidly of his memories of that crisp, cold November day, as he witnessed Mrs Kennedy “wiping away her tears”.
One message rings strong through the documentary: in the one and a half hours JFK was in Galway, he made a strong, lasting impression upon the local people, and built a connection between America and Ireland that would travel through generations.
The project, co-funded by Galway City Council also also brings to live a vibrant city, shot beauti- fully, with sweeping views of the iconic ‘Galway Bay’ and renowned Claddagh basin.

  • Pamela Finn
    Stitch Show RTE
  • Pamela Finn
    Social TV
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 15, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Palas Cinema
    June 24, 2023
    Irish Premiere
  • JFK Hyannis Museum
    United States
    June 30, 2023
    Premiere United States
Director Biography - Pamela Finn

The documentary is directed by Pam Finn, previously creator and producer of Social TV, launched in Los Angeles in 2018. Finn also created and directed The Stitch Show Series for National Broadcaster RTE. She is a TV host , having her own show on Irish TV as well as working alongside a Sundance Award Winning Director as Casting Director for a major film documentary hitting cinemas in 2024. JFK - The Three Miles is Finn's debut directorial documentary.

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