I was the poor Irish milkmaid who became ‘Jackie’s Girl’
Kathy, 72, on dream job with former First Lady
AN Irish woman brought up on a remote farm with no running water or electricity has written a book about her 13 years as Jackie Kennedy’s personal assistant.
Kathy Mckeon, the fourth of eight children from Co Monaghan, was just 19 and newly arrived in New York when she got the job of a lifetime.
She had moved to the US to get away from the extreme poverty of her upbringing where all 10 in the family’s three-room cottage in Inniskeen shared the same toothbrush.
By sheer chance a policeman cousin worked on security outside Jackie Kennedy’s plush apartment block on New York’s exclusive Upper East Side and discovered the former First Lady was looking for an Irish girl to join her domestic staff.
It was 1964 and the assassination of Jackie’s husband, President John F Kennedy, the previous year was still incredibly raw.
In Jackie’s Girl: My Life With The Kennedy Family, Kathy tells for the first time how she went for an interview with one of the most famous women in the world fearing she would have no chance as a humble, uneducated Irish “milkmaid”.
But a warm and friendly Jackie gave her the job on the spot after seeing her laughing and joking with her little son John Jnr. She moved in with the grieving widow and her children, Caroline and John, and 1040 5th Avenue, just opposite Central Park, became her home. Summers were spent in Cape Cod and winter breaks were taken in Palm Beach or skiing in Colorado.
Few people ever heard of Kathy’s story until she released her book in the US this month.
Now 72 and living in Florida, the mother of three said she decided to write the book for her grandchildren when they began asking about her experiences for their school work.
She said JFK’S mother dubbed her “Jackie’s Girl” to distinguish her from all the otherirish staff at the family compound in Cape Cod.
Kathy, who always called Jackie “Madam”, reveals she was more of a nanny and maid than a PA and helped to rear the two children.
She said she developed a close and lasting relationship with the notoriously private Jackie.
Even when she stopped working for her in 1977 to devote time to her own husband Seamus and three children she would still call in on Jackie at Cape Cod. She also told how her boss was always a “perfect lady” although she
I called her ‘Madam’, she was always a perfect lady but she could be a little obsessive
KATHY MCKEON ON LIFE AS PERSONAL ASSISTANT
CLOSE BOND Jackie with Caroline and John Jnr at Kathy’s wedding