The Dublin college which attempted to auction off Jackie Kennedy’s private letters to an Irish priest is to close due to financial difficulties after 172 years in business.
The Catholic All Hallows College in Drumcondra had expected to raise almost $1.5 million from the sale of the letters from Kennedy to Fr Joseph Leonard.
The letters were bequeathed by Fr Leonard to the Vincentian order who offered them to former Irish ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith but she declined the offer.
The Irish Times has reported that the Dublin college put the collection of letters up for auction last week when they were valued at almost $1.5 million.
After objections were raised, the All Hallows college and the Vincentian Fathers withdrew the letters from sale.
Now it has emerged that the college is to close on financial grounds with its president Fr Patrick McDevitt admitting to the Irish Times that it needed almost $3 million just to stay in business next year.
He said: “Selling the Jackie Kennedy letters would have bought All Hallows College a little wiggle room but wouldn’t have prevented closure.
“The college needed at least €2 million to get into next year and the letters would have provided only one piece of a plan to save the institution from closure.”
Fr McDevitt confirmed that the college is in talks with the Kennedy family on how best to preserve the letters.
He told the paper that staff at the college had been aware of the Kennedy letters for years.
Their existence was also known to the Kennedy family and, when Jean Kennedy Smith was ambassador to Ireland from 1993 to 1998, she was offered them.
He said: “The offer wasn’t taken up.”
The college president added: “The challenging landscape of today’s third level education arena has led to a diminishing of the college’s reserves to an unsustainable level.”
The Irish Times reports that there are 450 students enrolled in degree programs with another 500 taking part in continuing education courses at the college.