Wednesday 23 January 2019

Kennedy Summer School pumps €225,000 into the local economy

More than 1,000 visitors expected to arrive in town for three-day festival

Miriam O’Callaghan with Kennedy Summer School Chair Willie Kielthy, and Iseult MacCrosain and Séamus Whelan
Miriam O’Callaghan with Kennedy Summer School Chair Willie Kielthy, and Iseult MacCrosain and Séamus Whelan

David Looby

The net benefit to New Ross from the Kennedy Summer School this year is set to be in the region of €225,000 organisers have said.

The sixth annual summer school attracts more than 1,000 people to New Ross, many of whom stay at local hotels and B&Bs. Beginning on Thursday, the three-day festival will see an influx of visitors from across the country and the globe descend on the town for numerous political and cultural debates, public interviews and lectures, along with a series of social events including the tea party of the year.

The summer school official opens on Thursday and will be officially opened by the daughter of Bobby Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, who is president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation.

A limited number of tickets to some of the free events remain for a now otherwise sold out summer school.

The initial free event on September 6 is an expert panel discussion on the future of higher education in Ireland chaired by Professor Tom Collins. At 11 a.m. on Thursday Professor Brian MacCraith, President of Dublin City University; Professor Richard Aldous, Bard College, New York; Mr Peter Cassells, NUI Maynooth, Chair of the Expert Group on the Future Funding for Higher Education; Professor Mary Daly ex-President of the Royal Irish Academy, UCD; Professor Richard Hayes Vice President, Waterford Institute of Technology; Professor Kerstin Mey Vice President, University of Limerick and Siona Cahill President of the Union of Students in Ireland will all discuss the future of Ireland's education system. This is a free event but places are limited and must be booked in advance. To reserve a space on a first come basis, email to receive confirmation of ticket allocation.

Another free event will see Gerard Doherty former Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party present his book 'They were friends of mine, Bobby, Jack and Ted' to the John F. Kennedy Book and Research Archive at New Ross Library. Gerard will also sit down with internationally renowned historian and the biographer Professor Richard Aldous for what will be a must-see free event for all Kennedy aficionados, as they will discuss the Camelot era in a public interview at New Ross Library, also on Thursday at 6 p.m. This is a free event but places are limited and must be booked in advance. To reserve a space on a first come basis, email to receive confirmation of ticket allocation.

A very special free event aimed at secondary school students will be hosted on Friday morning at 10 a.m. Titled 'Inspiring Ambition over Adversity' will see some very inspiring speakers including writer, academic and broadcaster Sinead Burke and senator and student activist Lynn Ruane and broadcaster and comedian, Chris Greene take to the stage at St Mary's Secondary School as they discuss the challenges they have faced and overcome in life.

Other summer school highlights include a sports panel event with Irish hockey's Lisa Jacob, horse trainer Aidan O'Brien, GAA's Anna Geary and Davy Fitzgerald and soccer star Kevin Doyle; an interview with American Presidential campaign strategist for John McCain, John Kasich and of and George H.W Bush, John Weaver and a sit down interview with Miriam O'Callaghan of RTE fame. The Kennedy Speaker's Lunch' will see EU Commissioner Phil Hogan give his update take on Brexit; and a special screening of Greg Barker's fly-on-the-wall documentary about Barrack Obama's final year in office will take place, followed by a skype interview with Samantha Power the former US Ambassador to the United Nations.

The summer school is deliberately held outside the peak tourist season to bring a significant economic benefit to the town and surrounding area with visitors from the US, the UK, France, Germany and all across Ireland, who have snapped the 1,300 tickets for the three-day festival. Some 9 per cent of attendees hail from the international visitor market and 65 per cent from all across Ireland, with 26 per cent of attendees coming from Wexford and the immediate vicinity. The organisers said these figures will see New Ross boosted by an economic impact of €225,000.

Commenting on the upcoming event, Kennedy Summer School Chairperson Willie Keilthy said: 'In addition to the direct economic benefit to the town and the national and international publicity, the Kennedy Summer School has reinforced the town's association with the Kennedy name and the relationship with key players nationally and in Irish America who have participated in the event. The Kennedy Summer School is really bucking the trend as an advance sell-out; it is a testament to the excellent and relevant line-up of speakers secured for the 2018 programme. There are some tickets still available for the very enjoyable Kennedy Tea Party and we would encourage anyone interested in attending this event to secure their tickets as soon as possible and we have three excellent free events which members of the public are more than welcome to join. We are working on live-streaming some of the keynote events and we will share details of this opportunity to join the summer school on our social media accounts closer to the opening dates.'

The Kennedy Summer School was founded in 2012 by Ballycullane native Noel Whelan who has continued to grow the reach of the summer school over the last five years alongside Sean Reidy, CEO of the JFK Trust Sean Connick, along with the Kennedy Summer School team and the directors of this year's summer school programme: historian and author Dr Brian Murphy and UCG Law Lecturer and U.S. politics pundit Larry Donnelly.

The Kennedy Tea Party will take place at the JFK Arboretum during the annual Kennedy Summer School this Thursday afternoon. Special guests include internationally renowned Rachel Allen and comedian Brendan Grace. A very limited number of tickets to this event are available from St Michael's Theatre on 051 421255.

To join a waiting list tickets please see for further details and updates on the live streaming of 2018 summer school events follow @JFK_SS on Twitter.

New Ross Standard