Kennedys return to ‘school’ in New Ross
Rory Kennedy and Ted Kennedy jnr visit family homestead and attend Kennedy Summer School
Rory Kennedy (centre) and Ted Kennedy jnr with actor Anne Marie Kennedy on board the Dunbrody at New Ross yesterday. Photograph: Mary Browne
Ted Kennedy jnr and his cousin Rory were in Co Wexford yesterday to visit the Kennedy homestead at Dunganstown and attend the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross.
The son of the late senator Edward M Kennedy and daughter of Robert Kennedy laughed and joked as they arrived at the quays in New Ross and posed for pictures with staff of the “Famine Experience” vessel the Dunbrody.
It was just a few feet from a monument to mark the spot where John Fitzgerald Kennedy had addressed a crowd in the town 50 years ago this summer.
The monument noted this spot too, which was just 100 feet from where the president’s ancestor Patrick sailed from Ireland in 1848.
Indeed the ship’s guide “Mrs White” – actor Anne Marie Kennedy – confessed she “could well be” a cousin of the glamorous visitors.
Ted jnr and Rory were accompanied by their respective spouses, Kiki Kennedy and Mark Bailey.
Both are seasoned travellers to Ireland and both insisted the old country connections were as much a part of Kennedy life as they had been at least a generation before. Irish politics and culture were still the stuff of every dinnertime conversation, they attested.
“We are at home here,” said Ms Kennedy.
“My grandmother [Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy] in Boston was treated as a second-class citizen,” said Ted, recalling his family’s progress in the US. “Even when my uncle ran for the presidency there were those who pointed out that he was a Catholic. Can you imaging that was still an issue,” he said.
However, he did not seem to get a chance to answer the question posed to all Kennedys: “Will you run for public office?”
Rory Kennedy was equally reticent: “I am happy in what I do. But don’t rule it out,” she said, smiling.
Ms Kennedy said she was looking forward to last night’s screening of the documentary on the life of her mother, Ethel Kennedy, in New Ross. Ethel, the Personal Untold Story of Ethel Kennedy has been nominated at tomorrow night’s Emmy Awards
Would she not rather be in the US to watch the Emmys? “I am interested – don’t get me wrong,” she said, before adding she had missed the family gathering in New Ross this summer and didn’t want to miss this trip. “We have so many friends here,” she said.
Earlier yesterday at a summer school “appetiser”, former Fianna Fáil minister Mary O’Rourke ruled out standing at the next general election.
Mrs O’Rourke said politics would always interest her, but the effort of standing and attending Leinster House on an almost daily basis was something she would no longer consider. Mrs O’Rourke said journalism was her preferred choice of profession when she left school but it did not happen. She said she hoped to continue writing and commenting on political life, although she found life was “lonely, very lonely” since her husband Enda died.
Mrs O’Rourke said she now was more religious than she used to be, “now that I am coming to the end” .