‘Dear Dot’ – Exhibition running Summer 2019

Dear Dot …..

The opening words of each letter from every member of the Kennedy family as they wrote to Dorothy Tubridy, the woman who became their best friend in Ireland,  who became as close as a sister to them, and who was a de facto ambassador to America for this country for over 50 years.

The Kilkenny born lady – who would spend an all too short part of her life in county Meath, close to Trim – became an extended member of the famous American political dynasty through her  friendship with Ethel and Robert Kennedy, whose daughter Courtney is her Goddaughter.

RTE News report from official opening on May 12th

There are many who would use such connections to their own advantage. Dot Tubridy never exploited her relationship with the Kennedys for such purposes. Instead, she used it to benefit the country, from her involvement in the planning for President John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963, to the Northern Ireland Peace Process of the 1990s.

And it was a real friendship, born when Dot ‘s husband, the daring Captain Michael Tubridy, footballer and army showjumper, met fellow equestrian Ethel Skakel, fiancée of Bobby Kennedy, at a showjumping event in Madison Square Gardens in 1949. The two young couples bonded and became close, and when Michael Tubridy was tragically killed in a horseriding accident in Trimblestown in 1954, the young widow was invited to America to spend time with the Kennedy clan in Florida.

Through her friendship with Bobby and Ethel, Dot also met John Kennedy and Jackie Bouvier when they paid a brief visit to Ireland on their honeymoon in 1955.

Ryan Tubridy reads a poem given to Courtney Kennedy by Trim man John Hopkins – ‘Dad’ . John said Courtney was the most appropriate person to give it to.

Dot Tubridy was appointed Waterford Glass representative in the United States following her husband’s death , and became a high profile ambassador for Ireland and its tourism and fashion industry on American TV and radio. She was an attractive young woman who used her public relations skills to promote the country to the highest level, and it was her idea to present a crystal bowl to the President of the United States in the White House every St Patrick’s Day.

She also became deeply involved in the Kennedy family’s election campaigns, from Senator John F Kennedy’s race for the Democratic Party nomination, working with him on television appearances during primaries in West Virginia and Wisconsin, to Edward Kennedy’s presidential bid in 1980.

She was by their side for the highs and the lows, through the Camelot years in the White House, attending the presidential inauguration, accompanying the President and his sisters on their Irish visit, through to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, family tragedies, and election wins and losses.  President John F Kennedy sent her his Irish itinerary for approval in 1963 – in this exhibition there is a document where she corrects the term ‘Parliament’ to ‘Dail Eireann’.

His original plan was just to visit Dublin – it was Dot who encouraged him to travel around the country to other cities – Limerick, Galway and Cork – by helicopter.

A message to the Irish People from Senator John F Kennedy for Dot Tubridy’s approval

Dot Tubridy holidayed with the Kennedys at least twice a year. Joseph Kennedy II described her as somebody who “always lifts the spirits and gives her smiles and love to all of us”. Courtney Kennedy called her “my extra special Godmother who takes such good care of all of us – and keeps us smiling.”

Message from Joe Kennedy II

For over half a century, the Kennedy clan remained in correspondence with Dot Tubridy, evident through the letters, cards, photographs, gifts, medals, and souvenirs on display in this exhibition, and she remained in constant touch with them, visiting them regularly in the United States.

Courtney Kennedy & Sydney Kennedy take a special tour of Trim Castle organised by Trim Tourism Network

When Eunice Kennedy Shriver died in August 2009, just a couple of weeks before Ted Kennedy also passed away, Dot Tubridy was invited to be an honorary pall bearer at her funeral.

Dot herself slipped away quietly and without fuss in May 2018, and this exhibition is being opened to mark the first anniversary of a special lady’s passing.

Each letter, card, and note in the collection opens up with the words ‘Dear Dot’, showing the genuine intimacy and affection this glamorous and good-hearted lady enjoyed with the most powerful Irish-American family of the 20th century.The Exhibition contains original letters from the Kennedy Family , Waterford Crystal, letters from world leaders

The Exhibition of letters, memorabilia and messages is on display at Trim Visitor Centre located at Market House, Castle Street, Trim , Co. Meath. Ireland

Message from Maria Shriver

Text:  John Donohoe

Exhibition by Trim Tourism Network

Main Sponsor – Trimfold Envelopes Ltd

Supported by Waterford Crystal, Meath County Council, Meath County Library, Boyne Valley Tourism & Failte Ireland

Exhibition material:  The Gibson and Lawlor families