Leading public figures and academics from Ireland and the US will come together for one weekend in September, to bring a feast of political conversation to the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, Co. Wexford – the hometown of JFK’s Irish ancestors.

The 2016 summer school, which revolves around the theme 'A Festival of Irish and American, History, Politics and Culture,’ will take place from September 8 – 10. Thirty guest speakers, including Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, former 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Martin O’Malley, and former chief strategist for Bernie Sanders Tadd Devine, will participate in a wide range of different topics.

Organizers say that the imminent US Presidential Election will obviously feature prominently.

The Kennedy Summer School and Festival is run in association with the John F. Kennedy Trust New Ross and with Wexford County Council. The president’s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy departed from New Ross in 1848, fleeing the Great Hunger. As president, JFK returned to his family’s homestead in 1963, just a few months before his tragic death in Dallas.

On the evening of September 8, the Kennedy Summer School will be officially opened by United States Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley, followed by a reflection on the US Playwright Eugene O’Neill, whose Irish roots also stem from New Ross, and a key note lecture by Professor Robert Downing a leading US academic authority on Eugene O Neill’s work. The Thursday night opening will also include an audio visual spectacular by the comedian and performer Paddy Cullivan on the strangest stories of 1916.

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy stood in the yard of his ancestral home in New Ross and drank an iconic cup of tea with his Irish cousin Mary Ryan, and in honor of this event, on Friday, September 9 celebrity Chef Edward Hayden will host a Tea Party in Dunganstown at the Kennedy Homestead. Later that evening, Garda (Irish police) Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan will be interviewed for this year's Kennedy Summer School focus interview, title ‘On a Personal and Policing Journey’. This will be followed by the Edward M. Kennedy Lecture, hosted by the guest of honor and keynote speaker for the Summer School, the former Governor of Maryland and Democratic Presidential Contender, Martin O'Malley. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Irish Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald TD will also speak at the keynote address event.

Getting the school underway on Saturday, September 10, Dr. Robert M. Mauro, Director of the Irish Institute at Boston College and Dr. Richard Aldous, Eugene Meyer Chair at Bard College, will join a panel to discuss the US Presidency and politics – titled ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly.’

On Saturday afternoon a panel discussion on Irish politics looking at the ‘Budget, Brexit and Better Politics’ will be chaired by Katie Hannon, Political Correspondent for RTE’s Current Affairs Department, who will be joined by leading Irish politicians from each of the main political parties and the independents candidates.

Later in the afternoon, Tadd Devine will tell the story of the spectacular Bernie Sanders campaign for the Democratic Party nomination in which Devine was a key adviser. Larry Donnelly, political commentator and law lecturer at NUI Galway, and Kevin Cullen, columnist with the Boston Globe, will all discuss the US political landscape.

Taking the Summer School to a close will be a special screening of the Oscar’s 2016 Best Picture, Spotlight, which tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation into clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic dioceses, and the decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director at Amnesty International Ireland, and Kevin Cullen, columnist with the Boston Globe.

A number of Fleadh Cheoil events and luncheons will also take place with other guests including Anne Doyle, Charlie Bird, Tony Bates and more.

For further details and tickets for the 2016 events see kennedysummerschool.ie.

Taking the locals by surprise in New Ross town were ‘President John F. Kennedy’, ‘Donald Trump’ and ‘Hilary Clinton’. The famous trio were on hand to help launch the annual Kennedy Summer School.Mary Browne