Kennedy Summer School in Wexford

Robert Dowling.

By Tom Deignan, Contributor
August / September 2016

Art, literature, politics and history come together once again this September at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, Wexford.

American and Irish academics, writers and policy experts will converge to look back on and look ahead to some of the key issues in the American-Irish relationship.

On Thursday, September 8, the proceedings will kick off with an opening address from U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley, as well as a keynote address by Prof. Robert Dowling. Dowling is the leading U.S. academic on the work of Irish American playwright Eugene O’Neill and the author, most recently, of Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts. Finally, comedian Paddy Cullivan (The Late Late Show) will offer a unique perspective on some of the more offbeat stories from the 1916 Easter Rising.

Friday, September 9, will feature a panel discussion on mental health featuring Charlie Bird and others. Then there is the Dunganstown Tea Party featuring demonstrations from chefs such as Edward Hayden, as well as offerings from many Irish food producers.

This year’s Edward M. Kennedy Lecture will be given by former governor of Maryland and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley. Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Frances Fitzgerald will offer a reply to the lecture.

On the final day, September 10, organizers are presenting what they call “the strongest panel on U.S. politics ever assembled in Ireland.” The morning session will explore factors that have shaped the current U.S. political climate, with speakers including Dr. Robert M. Mauro, director of the Irish Institute at Boston College. Irish politics will be the focus of the afternoon session, chaired by RTÉ’s Katie Hannon. Other topics include the 2016 presidential election, with speakers including Tad Devine, Chief Strategist of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign. The final event of the Summer School will be a screening of the Oscar winning movie Spotlight, followed by a panel discussion that will explore the fallout from the clerical abuse scandal in Boston and a similar scandal in Ferns, Co. Wexford. Boston Globe columnist and member of the Spotlight investigation team Kevin Cullen will be among those participating.

Summer school details and tickets are available at kennedysummerschool.ie. ♦

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