A member of an iconic political dynasty, Courtney Kennedy Hill was just a child when her uncle, former US President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. Tragically, just five years later, at 11, she lost her father, Robert F. Kennedy, in the same way. Courtney credits her mother, human rights advocate Ethel Skakel, and that infamous Kennedy steel, with steering her and her siblings through their grief.
“She kept on Daddy’s work and kept him alive in all of us.”
Echoing Courtney’s reflections on her mother’s commitment to moving forward with their lives in the aftermath of such tragedy, Ryan shared a quote he knew the family associated with her.
“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”
Indeed, it was a similar quality that first drew Courtney to her second husband, Paul Hill (one of the Guildford Four, wrongfully imprisoned for the Guildford pub bombings in 1975. He subsequently had his conviction quashed and was released in 1989). Courtney’s mother introduced them both and it was love at first sight.
“I fell in love right away … He also was somebody who looked forward, he didn’t look back.”
Courtney told Ryan that it felt like home when the plane touched down yesterday, “it always does”. The reason for her current trip ‘home’, is a connection Courtney and Ryan have in common. Kilkenny native and lifelong friend of the Kennedys, Dorothy ‘Dot’ Tubridy was Courtney’s godmother and, Ryan says, a relative of his. Credited with playing a significant role in bringing JKF to Ireland, Dot Tubridy was also a champion for peace in Northern Ireland and one of the founders of the Special Olympics here. Remembering her fondly, Courtney remarked:
“She always had something going on, also forward-looking and had a terrific sense of humour. She was one of my favourite people on this earth.”
Courtney Kennedy Hill will open an exhibition in honour of Dot Tubridy on Sunday 12 May at the Trim Visitor Centre in Co. Meath. Organised by the Trim Tourism Network, ‘Dear Dot’, presents a treasure trove of artifacts that commemorate Dot Tubridy’s extraordinary life.
As their conversation drew to a close, Ryan thanked Courtney for some gifts she had kindly brought him, one of which was inscribed with a quote by her father Robert F. Kennedy which Ryan read out:
“The youthfulness of which I speak is not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. It is the spirit which knows the difference between force and reason, it does not accept the failures of tomorrow, it knows that we can clasp the future and mould it to our will.”
Listen back to the interview with her in full on The Ryan Tubridy Show here.
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