Kennedy Stories on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4, 1 December 2013
In this charming tale, the third in a series marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, the focus was on three generations of Irish people. Grandfather was a fervent nationalist, who believed that all England had done was subject his native land to eight hundred years of colonial oppression. A lover of Val Doonican, he could not quite understand why most of his family had chosen to emigrate. His son Eamon had moved to England and settled in Luton, where he had worked on a building site and brought up a family with very little connection to the mother country. Then there was the narrator, a dyed-in-the-wool English resident, who loathed the experience of visiting the family, and found Ireland a depressing place.
Within this generational framework, author O'Connor focused on Eamon's life - more specifically his love of the Blues, which he played regularly as a member of a pub band. At the time of the Kennedy assassination he had been booked for a gig in Slough; many of his Irish friends (as well as his father) had berated him for this decision, believing it to be somehow unpatriotic. The logic for this was torturous: Kennedy was a member of a Irish-American family who had emigrated to the United States during the Famine. His death was therefore an occasion for mourning amongst the Irish as well as the American people.
But Eamon had his own reasons for deciding to play, which told us a lot more about Kennedy's true legacy. Although proud of his origins, Kennedy embraced more fundamental beliefs in social and racial equality; by playing the Blues, Eamon recognized Kennedy's achievements in providing a voice for African-Americans in Sixties America.
This wonderfully nostalgic yet socially conscious piece was produced by Gemma McMullan.