A Young Kennedy Returns to His Roots in Ireland

Minsiter Brendan Howlin presents Bobby Kennedy with the award marking the induction of his grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy, into the Irish America Hall of Fame. Photo: Patrick Browne.

October / November 2012

Bobby Kennedy III travels to New Ross, Co. Wexford for the Irish America Hall of Fame inductions of Robert F. Kennedy and Eunice Shriver Kennedy, and the inaugural Kennedy Summer School.

The inaugural Kennedy Summer School was held in New Ross, Co. Wexford, September 6-8. Twelve separate events celebrated Irish-American history politics and culture, and the legacy of the Kennedy family in Ireland, and both Robert F. Kennedy and Eunice Kennedy Shriver were posthumously inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame.

The highlight on day one was a special presentation by Irish broadcaster and historian John Bowman on the 50 years of politics on Irish television since President Kennedy made his historic visit to Ireland in 1963. Bowman provided a fascinating take on the impact of television in the modern history of Ireland

The Kennedy civil rights legacy was discussed on Friday with keynote addresses by Professor Howard Keeley of Georgia South University and Austin Currie, former government minister of Ireland – both North and South.

At the conclusion of this event, Robert F. Kennedy was posthumously inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame. The formal induction address was given by the Minister for Public Service Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, who presented a specially commissioned presentation piece to Robert Kennedy’s grandson, Bobby Kennedy III. The presentation was given by the Minister on behalf of Irish America, and a portrait of Robert Kennedy was unveiled at the Dunbrody Irish Emigration History Center in New Ross.

Upon receiving the award Bobby Kennedy said, “I’ll accept this award and deliver it to my grandmother on behalf of her and my uncles and aunts and my many, many cousins. I’ll try to bring as many of them as I can back here next year, and if we get a third of them, we’re going to need a bigger room.”

Also on Friday, Geraldine Kennedy, the former editor of the Irish Times, was interviewed by Kennedy Summer School director Noel Whelan. Their fascinating conversation delved into the current Irish political climate, and Kennedy (no relation) put forth her view that it might be time for a new major political party to develop in Ireland in the coming years.

In anticipation of the coming U.S. elections, a Presidential Forum was held on Saturday. Leading Democratic Party strategist Tad Devine gave an up-to-date assessment of the prospects in the upcoming election, while Aine Kerr of Storyful.com stepped off the plane directly from the Democratic and Republican conventions to give her reflections on each. Tom Plank, the chairman of Republicans Abroad, Ireland; Larry Donnelly, legal counsel to Democrats Abroad, Ireland; and Professor Garry Murphy of Dublin City University also spoke.

Saturday afternoon saw Bobby Kennedy visit his Irish cousins at the Kennedy family homestead in Dunganstown, just as his great-uncle did in 1963.

The final event on Saturday evening was a tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her incredible work with the Special Olympics, which concluded with her induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame. Bobby Kennedy III made this presentation on behalf of Irish America to Special Olympic athlete Ann Hickey, who received the posthumous award on behalf of the Shriver family.


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