When Gerry O’Dea Captured JFK


Having joined the Dublin Camera Club at 19, Gerry O’Dea developed a love for documentary photography. When President Kennedy arrived at Dublin Airport in Air Force One (above) on 26 June 1963, Gerry was on hand to capture the now-historic photos on this page.

Gerry was also present when Kennedy was entertained at Iveagh House on St Stephen’s Green. He recalls there was a massive crowd of 500,000 in the area and JFK did not come out until 12.30 am. He leaned across the bonnet of his car and attempted to leave it, saying “I want to meet my people,” to the consternation of the Secret Service, who unceremoniously bundled him back in while the Gardaí cleared a path through the crowd towards Harcourt Street.

Now retired, Gerry is busier than ever with several interests, but photography remains an enduring passion. He is a member of Dublin Documentary Group, five specialists in street photography, and is regularly on photoshoots about the city. Gerry is especially proud of a recent acclaimed photo project he did on people coping with disabilities.

Above: Service staff leave Air Force One from the front, while JFK is foremost on top of the rear steps. President Eamon de Valera and Taoiseach Seán Lemass are among the group to the right of the rear steps.