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JFK - A Homecoming

Airs Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 12 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy visits Ireland, June 1963.

The great-grandson of Irish immigrants, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the first and only Irish-Catholic American elected president of the United States. He always relished his Irish heritage, and in June 1963, Kennedy made an historic trip to his ancestors' homeland. In the American Public Television-distributed special "JFK - A Homecoming," Irish television host Ryan Tubridy takes us on a remarkable journey behind the scenes of that era-defining visit.

JFK Media Gallery

View historical photo collections from the life of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

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Watch or listen to historic speeches by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

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Kennedy had been in Ireland on three other occasions and his relationship to the country was deep. But during this visit, as president, he was given a hero's welcome.

"JFK - A Homecoming," probes the significance of the visit, examining why he had such a profound effect on the country. It recollects and reflects on the Ireland into which Kennedy arrived, a country that was largely agrarian and extremely poor.

The echoes of modern times are also present as the documentary looks at the comparisons between the Kennedy story and that of President Obama — both presidential mold-breakers in their own way.

The documentary features contributions from: Ted Sorensen, one of Kennedy's most trusted advisors who was with him on the trip to Ireland; Jean Kennedy Smith, Jack's last surviving sibling, who was also on the trip; and authors and historians, including JFK's American biographer Robert Dallek.

Film archive and previously unheard audio archive from the JFK library in Boston — including audio speeches, photos and personal testimony — all contribute to this exploration of what was both a private and a public journey for America's 35th President. An absorbing historical documentary, "JFK - A Homecoming," is a tribute to a great man and a great land.

Video

Preview: JFK - A Homecoming

Above: In this landmark documentary, television and radio broadcaster Ryan Tubridy, presents the public and private sides of that whirlwind Kennedy visit of 1963 - the emigrant famine family returned successfully, closing the circle of history. Within three generations the Kennedy clan had risen from poor Irish immigrant stock to the highest political office in America. What is less well known is that Kennedy was in Ireland on three other occasions revealing a much deeper relationship between Kennedy and Ireland. More than that, as the documentary will reveal our relationship with him and by extension America, was more complex than we commonly imagine.