06 Oct 2022

New Ross Kennedy Summer School 2022 a resounding success

Full in-person Kennedy Summer School for the first time in three years

Kennedy Summer School to host 1963-style Kennedy tea party 

The 2022 Kennedy Summer School returned in person last week and was a resounding success

The 2022 Kennedy Summer School returned in person last week and was a resounding success. It opened on Thursday, September 8 with almost 200 secondary school students gathered to enjoy a discussion on ‘Sustainable Futures’ at the JFK Arboretum with Senator Grace O’Sullivan, GIY’s Mick Kelly, OPW Matthew Jebb, and National Youth Assembly on Climate members Anabel O’Hore and Allanah Wrynn with moderator David McCullagh.  


Later, that afternoon a unique tea party was hosted by Mary Kennedy featuring Eileen Dunne and Ukrainian opera singer Olga Doroshchuk at the JFK Arboretum. The same day at New Ross library, authors Neal Thompson, Professor Sarah Churchwell, Larry Donnelly, Dr Brian Murphy and Professor Donnacha Ó Beacháin donated their titles on US politics and the Kennedys to the Kennedy Book and Research Archive. 


In the evening, US Ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin officially opened the summer school. Ambassador Cronin shared stories of passing a note to now President Biden on an aeroplane encouraging him to run for the presidency, she spoke of the potential US president’s visit to Ireland and shared her love for Ireland and the culture of the country. 


Officially launching the Summer School, ambassador Cronin said: “The U.S. Irish relationship was built on ancestral ties, but it is the economic, cultural and educational ties that fasten our relationship into the future.”


Sustainable tourism took centre stage with a discussion featuring the CEO of Fáilte Ireland Paul Kelly, Acting Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland Siobhan McManamy, Dr Dominic Dillane Head of School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at TU Dublin, Chief Executive for the ITOA Ruth Andrews and Cian Ó Lionáin the Assistant Secretary with responsibility for Tourism and Sport policy and funding in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.  


The Edward M Kennedy lecture saw Senator Tom Clonan, Prof Donnacha Ó Beacháin, Tony Connelly and Shona Murray discuss ‘Putin’s War: The Invasion of Ukraine and what it means for Europe?’ It was an engrossing discussion with the expert knowledge of military planning, warfare and  global war reporting displayed  by the expert panellists.


Friday began with the annual Kennedy Summer School Speakers lunch with special guest speaker Bertie Ahern being interviewed by Robert Mauro of Boston College. 


The annual Kennedy Summer School session bearing the name of the summer school founder, the late Noel Whelan, ‘The Noel Whelan Interview’ re-commenced events at St. Michael’s Theatre on Friday evening and saw Garda Commissioner Drew Harris participate in a public interview with questions being posed by Kennedy Summer School Director Sinead McSweeney. Seamus Whelan said he was delighted to see the Kennedy Summer School back in full and remembered his late father Noel and his late Grandmother Myra in his opening address.



Following this interview, the Kennedy Summer School Keynote keynote guest, US lawyer and Politician Joe Kennedy, son of Joe Kennedy Senior and grandson of the US senator and Attorney General Robert Kennedy joined the event remotely. Discussing politics and fake news, Joe said: “The massive spread of misinformation is causing enormous damage to our society" - adding that we need to look at ethics and liability. "There's no one policy or solution."


A discussion on Ulysses and Gatsby took discussions to a close on Friday evening as Prof Philip McGowan, Prof Sarah Churchwell, and Ambassador Dan Mulhall discussed Ulysses and Gatsby. The evening closed with the audience enjoying the dulcet tones of Colm Mac Con Iomaire.


On Saturday morning the Kennedy Summer School History Symposium took place focusing on lost leaders; Michael Collins, Parnell, JFK and Bobby Kennedy with a panel from guest speakers Dr Martin O’Donoghue, Neal Thompson, Dr William Murphy, Biona Nic Dhiarmada and Dr Anne Dolan. 


Cal Thomas and Marion McKeone featured next in a discussion on US politics. Calling the midterms; Cal thinks the likelihood is Democrats will keep control of the Senate and Marion agrees that the Democrats might narrowly lose the house.


At the Irish Women Covering Politics panel of political journalists including Aoife Moore, Christina Finn, Mandy Johnston, Ciara Phelan, Mary Regan and moderator Ivan Yates. Aoife Moore outlined how: “the abuse of female political reporters and female politicians is 'far more personalised' than the abuse directed at men.”


At the Irish Politics panel discussion featuring Minister Jack Chambers TD, Richard Boyd-Barrett TD, Sorca Clarke TD, Verona Murphy and moderator Gavin Reilly.

Sorca Clarke said: “we haven't seen an adequate government response to creating alternative energy sources, and that successive governments have failed on this." 


Jack Chambers said: “Government will bring in a very cost-effective package in the upcoming budget to deal with the cost of living crisis.”


The final event saw the American Irish State Legislators’ Caucus with state legislators from Rhode Island and New Jersey join a conversation with Senator Mark Daly and Larry Donnelly.


Commenting on the 2022 Kennedy Summer School Chairman Willie Keilthy said: “We are so delighted to have hosted a full in-person Kennedy Summer School for the first time in three years. The engagement levels, the atmosphere, the buzz and festival joviality were palpable throughout the weekend in New Ross. It was wonderful to welcome faces old and new to the festival events this year and we cannot wait to do it all again on an even bigger scale in 2023.”


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