2022 Kennedy Summer School Programme

It is with tremendous pleasure that we invite you to join us in New Ross for the 2022 Kennedy Summer School. The summer school has become a major political and cultural event, and diary commitment for an early September weekend.  As summer draws to a close, people on both sides of the Atlantic are sharpening their focus on the year ahead.

Over three days – from the 8th to the 10th of September – we will be joined by high profile figures from the United States, Ireland, and beyond to discuss our shared history and culture, our politics in a time of uncertainty and tumult, and what our future may hold in store.
The summer school will commence with the commemorative Tea Party and with a session at New Ross Library on recently published books on Irish American themes. The annual speakers’ lunch will take place on Friday at the JFK Memorial Park and Arboretum. And then, we will have a number of expert panels discussing history, journalism, climate change, tourism, the war in Ukraine, US politics, Irish politics, and more.  There will be entertainment and numerous occasions for lively informal encounters. 
Among our keynote speakers this year are the US Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin, former US Representative Joe Kennedy and Minister Simon Harris, with others to be announced.  We will also be joined by duelling US political commentators, Cal Thomas and Marion McKeone, who will provide an extended version of their weekly radio joust on Today FM in St Michael’s Theatre. And Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, Mark Daly, will discuss his efforts to establish the American Irish State Legislators Caucus which already boasts more than 800 members, some of whom will join us virtually from the US. 
It is worth repeating: there will literally be something for everyone at the Kennedy Summer School from the 8th to the 10th of September. We hope that you will join us for some or all of what promises to be an informative, thought provoking, and enjoyable three days in New Ross. 
Larry Donnelly, Eileen Dunne, Eamonn Hore, Willie Keilthy, Dr Robert Mauro, Sinéad McSweeney, Dr Brian Murphy
Kennedy Summer School 2022 Organising Committee

Thursday 8th September  10.30 am

Venue: The Marquee At JFK Memorial Park And Arboretum

Sustainable Futures

Speakers: Matthew Jebb, Senator Grace O’Sullivan, Jo Linehan, Michael Kelly, Alannah Wrynn & moderated by David McCullagh.

In a new event for the Kennedy Summer School we explore how we can all work towards a sustainable future, working together for policy and political change in combination with personal responsibility.

Joining us for this panel discussion is Senator Grace O’Sullivan, Founder of GIY Michael Kelly, Dr Matthew Jebb from the National Botanic Gardens

David McCullagh of RTÉ and author of ‘The Great Irish Politics’ book will moderate the panel.

This event has been created for secondary school students and will be hosted in conjunction with the OPW at the JFK Memorial Park.


Thursday 8th September  2:30 pm

Venue: JFK Memorial Park And Arboretum

The Kennedy Summer School Afternoon Tea Party

The Kennedy Summer School will again celebrate the iconic Presidential visit of John F Kennedy to New Ross and Dunganstown with a special event of talks, entertainment and afternoon tea. The event will be hosted by Sean Connick, Chief Executive of the JFK Trust New Ross, and will feature an afternoon with Mary Kennedy.

We have invited Mary to talk about her career paths and life after RTÉ. The afternoon promises to be an interesting, entertaining, lively opportunity for all involved to meet, mingle and chat in that most typical of Irish ways – over a cup of tea.

During the event the rare film footage of the visit of President John F Kennedy captured by the late Peggy Walsh will be screened.

Members of Wexford Federation of Irish Country Women’s Association will create a mouth-watering range of exquisitely presented homemade cakes and pastries for this special Afternoon Tea event.

Speaker: Mary Kennedy


Thursday 8th September 5.00 pm

Venue: New Ross Library

New Ross Kennedy Book And Research Archive – Presentation of A Medley of Irish-American books.

Speakers: Neal Thompson, Professor Sarah Churchwell, Larry Donnelly, Dr Brian Murphy & moderator Aisling Brady

The Kennedy Book and Research Archive is delighted to accept a selection of books to add to the collection at New Ross Library. 

This year, authors Neal Thompson (The First Kennedys: The Humble Roots of an American Dynasty), Professor Sarah Churchwell (The Wrath to Come: Gone with the Wind and the Myth of the Lost Cause), Larry Donnelly (The Bostonian: Life in an Irish-American Political Family) and Dr Brian Murphy (From Whence I Came: The Kennedy Legacy, Ireland and America, co-edited with Prof Donnacha Ó Beacháin) are all donating their latest books on the Kennedys and/or US political themes to the archive.   

Aisling Brady from Oireachtas TV will chair a panel discussion with the authors and will discuss the process of writing a best-selling book, as well as key themes in Irish-American culture that are strongly evident in each of these titles. 

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 info@kennedysummerschool.ie to receive confirmation of ticket allocation


Thursday 8th September 6pm – 7 pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

Official Opening of 2022 Kennedy Summer School

Speaker: US Ambassador Claire Cronin 

The Kennedy Summer School is delighted that the US Ambassador Claire Cronin has kindly accepted our invitation to officially open the 2022 Kennedy Summer School programme.


Thursday 8th September 7 pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

Wexford Leading Tourism – Panel Discussion 
Tourism is a building block for regional balance and a critical contributor to social cohesion. It is essential for creating sustainable communities and a significant generator of jobs in regional and rural Ireland. Proud Wexford natives Paul Kelly, CEO Fáilte Ireland, and Siobhan McManamy, Tourism Ireland, are responsible for growing tourism both in Ireland and to Ireland respectively.

Join this panel discussion to hear how their Wexford roots have shaped their approach to driving a sustained and sustainable recovery for Ireland’s tourism industry and what the future holds for the South East region.

More participants from the Wexford tourism industry to be announced.


Speakers: Paul Kelly, Siobhan McManamy, Dr Dominic Dillane, Ruth Andrews, Cian Ó Lionáin


Thursday 8th September 8pm – 9pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

The Edward M Kennedy Lecture – Putin’s War:
The Invasion of Ukraine and what does it mean for Europe? 

Speakers: Senator Tom Clonan, Prof Donnacha Ó Beacháin, Tony Connelly and Shona Murray

In February 2022, Russia unleashed the biggest war in Europe since World War Two with the justification that it saw Ukraine as constant threat.  The leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has won him international acclaim and he has personified his country’s resistance.  Thousands of people have died in the conflict, towns and cities have been destroyed and millions of people have been displaced and had their lives shattered. But many key questions remain, including: what was it all for, how can a permanent peace be secured and what will be the lasting impact on Europe’s economic and political future? Our expert panel will discuss these and other themes.  


Friday 9th September 12.30 pm – 2.30pm

Venue: The Marquee at JFK Memorial Park and Arboretum

Speakers Lunch

Speaker: Minister Simon Harris

Delegates and invited guests get the opportunity to meet and mingle with the 2022 summer school speakers at this lunch event at nearby JFK Memorial Park & Arboretum. This lunch event is hosted by Boston College and this year’s speaker for the lunch itself will be Minister Simon Harris.


Friday 9th September 7pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

The Noel Whelan Interview

Speaker: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

Launching the summer school will be the second annual Kennedy Summer School session bearing the name of our founder, the late Noel Whelan.

One of the highlight of the Kennedy Summer School, this session commemorates the life and legacy of the late Noel Whelan, one of the founders of the school in 2012

Following the opening of this year’s Kennedy Summer School we will hold the Noel Whelan Interview with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.


Friday 9th September 8pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre


The Kennedy Summer School Keynote will be joined by US lawyer and politician Joe Kennedy, son of Joe Kennedy senior and grandson of the US senator and Attorney General Robert Kennedy.  Joseph Patrick Kennedy III served as the U.S. representative for Massachusetts’s 4th congressional district from 2013 to 2021. A member of the Democratic Party, he represented a district that extends from Boston’s western suburbs to the state’s South Coast.

Speaker: Joe Kennedy


Friday 9th September 9pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

Ulysses and Gatsby: Irish and American geniuses at work  

Speakers: Prof Philip McGowan, Prof Sarah Churchwell, Ambassador Dan Mulhall

This year marks the centenary of the publication of Ulysses, James Joyce’s celebrated work, set in Dublin, which is considered to be one of the great modernist novels. One of Joyce’s most admiring fans was a young Irish-American author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, best known for penning The Great Gatsby, arguably now one of America’s most treasured books. Joyce and Fitzgerald met at a dinner party in France in 1928. According to one guest at this party, Fitzgerald was so overawed to be in the presence of the Irish author that he referred to the evening as the “Festival of St. James” and sank down on one knee before Joyce, kissed his hand, and declared: “How does it feel to be a great genius, Sir? I am so excited at seeing you, Sir, that I could weep.” In honour of two great writers of Irish heritage, the Kennedy Summer School has assembled a panel of literary experts from both sides of the Atlantic, who will discuss the overlapping careers of James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald, relations between the two men and wider themes in Irish and American literature. 


Friday 9th September 10pm – 10.30pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

Music entertainment with Colm Mac Con Iomaire

Taking a break from political discussion and debate the Kennedy Summer School audience will be offered a respite with the dulcet tones of Colm Mac Con Iomaire.

In a crowded field of outstanding Irish fiddle players and interpreters of traditional music Colm Mac Con Iomaire is unique. His voice is unmistakably his own and his music bears distinctive creative hallmarks which have as much to do with his personality and character as with his impressive technical mastery, musical authority and exquisitely expressive playing.


Saturday 10th September 10.30am – 11.40am

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

History Symposium: Lost Leaders: Michael Collins, Parnell, JFK and Bobby. 

Speakers: Dr Martin O’Donoghue, Neal Thompson, Dr William Murphy, Dr Anne Dolan & moderator Prof Briona Nic Dhiarmada

John F. Kennedy died aged 46, Charles Stewart Parnell aged 45, Robert Kennedy aged 42, and Michael Collins aged just 31. Each of these young, charismatic political leaders made a profound impact on their respective countries and their premature deaths changed the course of history.  This August marks the centenary of the assassination of Michael Collins and, with this significant anniversary in mind, the Kennedy Summer School has assembled a panel of renowned historians to analyse the contribution of Ireland and America’s best known lost leaders. Collins, the Kennedy brothers and Parnell were all men of substantial achievement cut down in their prime. Our panel will discuss their successful but truncated careers, speculate on what they may have achieved had they lived and also assess the impact of public and private grief on the national consciousness in the United States and Ireland. 


Saturday 10th September 12pm – 1pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

Cal and Marion take the show on the road!

Speakers: Cal Thomas and Marion McKeone in interview with Larry Donnelly.

US correspondent with the Business Post Marion McKeone and syndicated columnist Cal Thomas – the stars of one of the most popular segments in Irish radio – will participate in a longer version of their Tuesday evening jousts on The Last Word on Today FM.  With rampant inflation, President Biden’s low approval ratings, the January 6th hearings and the lingering presence of Donald Trump, this is sure to be a lively encounter as the midterm congressional elections rapidly approach.  Cal and Marion’s equally informed, yet usually conflicting, perspectives on political events and trends make for fascinating radio and this session will offer each the chance to take a deeper dive into the big issues currently dividing America.  Kennedy Summer School co-director Larry Donnelly, who occasionally substitutes for both Cal and Marion, will take Matt Cooper’s place as “referee” and moderator.  


Saturday 10th September 2pm – 3pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

Irish Women Covering Politics

Speakers: Aoife Moore, Chrsitina Finn, Mandy Johnston, Ciara Phelan, Mary Regan and moderator Ivan Yates.

While progress in terms of electing more women to the Oireachtas and local authorities has been slow and hard fought, a good number of women now report on and analyse political developments in Leinster House and elsewhere.  There is greater gender balance among Ireland’s corps of political journalists than ever before, yet myriad challenges remain.  In response to questions from Wexford’s own Ivan Yates, the long-serving TD and former host of The Hard Shoulder on Newstalk FM, a formidable panel of Ireland’s leading print, broadcast and online journalists will outline their wide range of experiences covering and working in the still male-dominated world of Irish politics across different mediums, analyse Irish politics in 2022 and reflect upon the broader issues facing journalism as a profession.      


Saturday 10th September 3pm – 4pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

Irish Politics Panel
Four prominent TDs from across the political spectrum will discuss and debate the big issues facing the country with Gavan Reilly, Virgin Media political correspondent and host of “One the Record” on Newstalk.  Of these, the cost of living crisis is the most vexed.  The price of housing, childcare, consumer goods and more – already high by European standards – has risen rapidly and many individuals and families find themselves in a very difficult situation and are looking to elected officials for solutions.  As well as inflation and other domestic matters ahead of the budget and the transfer of power to a new Taoiseach, the panel will consider international topics of concern.

Speakers: Jack Chambers, Richard Boyd-Barrett, Sorca Clarke, Verona Murphy and moderator Gavan Reilly. 


Saturday 10th September 4.15pm – 5.15pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

US Politics Panel

Speakers: Prof Sarah Chuchwell, John Feehery, Royston Brady & Lise Hand, Moderator: Brian O’Donovan 

As always, this year’s summer school will host an ideologically diverse panel of experts to discuss the state of play in politics in the US.  At the moment, the words of President Jimmy Carter’s White House Chief of Staff, Hamilton Jordan, have never rung more true: “The battle in American politics used to be for the middle.  Now, it’s all about the building and the intensity of support on the far left and far right wings of both parties.  And we have forgotten about the people here in the middle.”  In this less than ideal milieu, the panellists will debate the dominant policies and personalities, examine systemic issues and consider whether common ground can still be found in a nation that is undeniably, and some would say hopelessly, splintered along multiple fault lines.


Saturday 10th September 5.15pm – 6.15pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

The American Irish State Legislators Caucus

Despite having the most Irish President of the United States since JFK, Joe Biden, in the White House, and an as influential as ever Congressional Friends of Ireland group on Capitol Hill, there is much concern about the future of Irish America and the close relationship between Ireland and the US.  Emigration from Ireland to the US has slowed to a trickle in recent decades and some argue that the ties that have always bound are beginning to fray.  Fortunately, there are still very many on both sides of the Atlantic who are committed to preserving and strengthening a connection that is the envy of the rest of the world.  One of these dedicated individuals is Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, Mark Daly, who has helped to establish the American Irish State Legislators Caucus in all fifty state capitals in order to bolster the US-Ireland bond and to ensure that the next generation of American political leaders with Irish roots or an affinity for the island of Ireland can build upon all that their predecessors achieved.  Senator Daly will be in conversation with Larry Donnelly and they will be joined virtually by a diverse group of legislators from the caucus, which has already attracted a membership of more than 800.  


Saturday 10th September 6.15pm

Venue: St Michael’s Theatre

Closing entertainment from the New Ross and District Pipe Band

To conclude a vibrant programme of talks and events, the Kennedy Summer School is delighted again to invite the New Ross & District Pipe Band to perform their now iconic special entertainment piece to mark the end of the 2019 Kennedy Summer School. Founded in 1974, this award-winning group will perform a series of familiar and inspiring songs and tunes reflecting themes of struggle, freedom and overcoming personal and political adversity.