JUST DAYS AFTER resigning as President of France, Charles de Gaulle and his wife Yvonne decided to take some time out…in Ireland.
On 28 April 1969, the then-78-year-old, often cited as the most powerful head of state in France since Napoleon III, decided to step down from politics after losing a referendum on reform of the Senate.
Less than two weeks later, on 10 May, the couple landed in Ireland. They travelled the country for more than a month, staying until mid-June. They visited Kerry, Connemara and Down.
The entire trip was documented by Padraig and Joan Kennelly, founders of photographic studio in Tralee. Their collection, entitled A Quiet Holiday, will be presented by the French Embassy in Ireland from 24 May at European Union House on Dawson Street in Dublin. The exhibition runs through 21 June. Admission is free.
Images of the McCartan family, understood to be the family from which De Gaulle descended, will also be displayed during the event. Padraig Kennelly recalls the details of the momentous visit (photos after the clip):
(Vimeo: Kennelly Archive)
Leaving mass in Cashel, Connemara.
Excited children, dressed in their Sunday finest, in the village of Sneem, county Kerry during the de Gaulle’s visit.
The first mass of the visit was given privately on 11 May at Heron Cove by Reverend Robert Flavin, curate of Sneem.
The former president and his wife Yvonne as they return from a walk in Derrynane, county Kerry.
Walking on the beach at Derrynane is the Général, his wife, his aide de camp Francois Flohic and his chauffeur Mr Fontenil.
A Sneem woman shows off her wares.
All images: © Padraig Kennelly