Kennedy Summer School Unveils Star-Studded Lineup for 2024

New Ross  is gearing up to host the 12th annual Kennedy Summer School from August 29th to 31st.

The event, set in the ancestral hometown of President John F. Kennedy, promises a rich blend of history, politics, and culture, with a host of distinguished guests and speakers. Eileen Dunne, the former RTE newsreader, will chair the event, taking over from Willie Keilthy, who led the summer school for the past decade. Dunne expressed her excitement about the 2024 program, highlighting its commitment to fostering public debate and open discussion, saying “I am delighted to unveil a varied programme of events for what is sure to be a lively, interesting, and entertaining Kennedy Summer School” . She continued “This summer school was founded on the belief that there was a greater need for public debate and open discussion, and it has stayed true to those roots.”

The British Ambassador to Ireland, Paul Johnston, will open the event on August 29th, while the Irish Ambassador to the UK, Martin Fraser, will close it on August 31st. Between these keynotes, the program features panel discussions, public interviews, a tea party, and a speaker’s lunch.

Notable discussions include a debate on whether Irish emigrants should have a say in Irish politics and a panel of Irish voices on the US Presidential election. Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny will participate in the Edward M. Kennedy interview with Marie-Louise O’Donnell. Other highlights include a forum on crime and anti-social behaviour, and a discussion titled, ‘The NATO Divide: perspectives on Ireland’s neutrality and national security’.

On a lighter note, a panel will explore Bruce Springsteen’s Irish heritage, featuring fans like David McCullagh, Ralph Riegel, Lise Hand, Prof Kirk Curnutt, and genealogist Fiona Fitzsimons. Bryan Dobson will be the special guest at the popular Kennedy Tea Party. Larry Donnelly, Director at the Kennedy Summer School, emphasized the event’s timely nature, saying “Our Summer School is at a pivotal time of year, just before the Government returns to the Dail and as we head into peak election period in the US. We will hear from inside voices on the preparation for the potential return of Trump and other significant political developments.”

The lineup of speakers includes prominent figures from both sides of the Atlantic, such as Dr. Laura Barberena, Alan Tierney, Mandy Johnston, Sarah Carey, Dr. Mark Henry, Hugh O’Connell, and many more. Maj. Gen. Timothy M. Zadalis, Vice Commander of the U.S. Air Forces, will also be among the speakers.

Special guest of honour Eamon Ryan will speak at the annual JFK Summer School Speakers Lunch at the JFK Arboretum. Additionally, a space-themed event titled “Astro Physics” will be hosted for schools at the arboretum with Science Foundation Ireland.

For more details and to purchase tickets, visit or call St. Michael’s Theatre at 051 421255.

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