The Kennedy Summer School was founded in 2012 by barrister, author and Irish Times columnist Noel Whelan. He was joined by William Keilthy the Vice-chair of the John F. Kennedy Trust in New Ross and Sean Reidy who was then Chief Executive of the Trust.
The first Kennedy Summer School was held in September 2012 as curtain raiser for the 50th Anniversary celebrations of President Kennedy’s visit t New Ross in June 2013.
The Kennedy Summer School is now an annual event of talks, interviews and presentations held in St Michael’s Theatre New Ross and in a number of nearby venues over three days every September. It is truly a festival of Irish and American History, Politics and Culture and has already established itself as a leading event in the Irish and Irish American political, media and cultural calendar.
The Summer School is designed to build on the relationship which the town has with the Kennedy family and on the work of the John F Kennedy Trust and New Ross Municipal District Council in promoting the town through initiatives such as the Dunbrody Famine Experience at the Quayside in New Ross the Kennedy Homestead in Dunganstown, Kennedy Book and Research Archive at New Ross Library and the nearby JFK Memorial Park and Arboretum. The objectives are to create maximum profile for the town in order to reinforce and build key tourism and economic relationships and, for one weekend at least, to place New Ross and its offerings at the centre of national political and media and social media focus.
The event is deliberately timed at the first full weekend in September each year, just as the end of the prime tourist season and at the beginning of the new political term in order to maximise profile for the town of New Ross.
The Summer School also seeks to build and support networks between the town and various national and international academic, tourism and heritage organisations. The Summer School has worked in close partnership with the Office of Public Works, with Fáilte Ireland, with Maynooth University and with Boston College.
As well as promoting New Ross and County Wexford a key philosophy of the voluntary organisers of the Summer School is to integrate the event into the local economic and social life of the town through the involvement of local businesses as well as through activities in the programme specifically designed to reach out to local secondary schools, to active retirement groups and to other sporting and community organisations in New Ross and the surrounding area.
The Summer School, and indeed the exhibition at the Homestead in Dunganstown and other activities in the area are designed not only to commemorate the life and work of President John F Kennedy but also the significant contribution made by his siblings to American public life and internationally.