OPW Celebrates 50 years of JFK Arboretum and Memorial Park

3 September 18

This year, JFK Arboretum and Memorial Park at New Ross celebrates 50 years since it opened to the public and to mark this special anniversary, the Office of Public Works has announced a programme of talks, tours and entertainment for all the family with free admission to the arboretum from Wednesday 5th of September to Sunday 9th of September.

The programme of celebrations coincides with the ever-popular Kennedy Summer School and the OPW and Summer School have joined forces to present some memorable events at the arboretum over the course of the five days.

The highlight will be a special Gala Dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary and to close the Kennedy Summer School at which President Michael D Higgins will be the Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker. Due to popular demand this event is now sold out. However, there will be two days of free, family events on the Saturday and Sunday including a Family Discovery Trail, live circus and music acts and special guided tours.

The OPW has also developed a new interpretation space at the visitor centre for visitors to learn more about the special historic landscape and important plant collection throughout the arboretum.

This room will be officially opened by Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran at 12noon on Sunday 9th of September and all are welcome to attend. This will be followed by a special talk by Dr. Matthew Jebb of the National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin who has responsibility for JFK Arboretum. His talk will focus on why John F Kennedy was honoured with an arboretum and the significance of the plant collection which has developed over the last 50 years. This talk is free and all are welcome.

In a statement, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD, Minister for the OPW and Flood Relief said, "This is a significant milestone for the JFK Arboretum and Memorial Park and we look forward to President Michael D Higgins joining us for what promises to be a wonderful conclusion to a thought provoking and stimulating few days."

The wonderful guides at JFK Arboretum will be on hand to take visitors on very special tours of the arboretum at 11am, 2pm and 4pm offering a unique insight into the 50-year history of the place and the plant collection which has developed over this time.


For further information contact OPW Client Services & Communications Unit on 087 147 0617 or at opwcsc@opw.ie

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Notes to Editors

Location: JFK Arboretum and Memorial Park, Ballysop, New Ross, Co. Wexford, Y34 KA48

Admission: Free 5th – 9th September

Car Parking: Free

Website: www.heritageireland.ie

50th Anniversary Programme

Saturday 8th September – ALL WELCOME

  • 12pm to 4pm - Family Discovery Trail with prizes      
  • 1pm & 3pm - Guido Fanzini’s Thunderous Entertainment Spectacle – Circus fun for all the family
  • 11am, 2pm, 4pm - Special Guided Tours: ‘The Arboretum - 50 Years of History & Horticulture’  
  • 7pm - Tree Planting with President Michael D Higgins
  • 8pm - Gala Dinner with Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker President Michael D Higgins (SOLD OUT).

Sunday 9th September – ALL WELCOME

  • 1pm to 3pm - Live Music
  • 11am and 2pm - Special Guided Tours on ‘The Arboretum 50 Years of History & Horticulture’
  • 12pm - Official opening of new interpretation room by Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran (New Interpretation room on the Arboretum, its special plant collection and important historic landscape)
  • 1pm - Special talk by Dr Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanic Gardens ‘Why John F Kennedy was honoured with an Arboretum’
  • 2pm to 3pm - Brass Band in the Marquee
  • 12noon to 4pm - Family Discovery Trail with prizes

JFK Memorial Park and Arboretum

The JFK Memorial Park and Arboretum is dedicated to the memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  The Arboretum is a tree collection of international standing. President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in June 1963 was a pivotal moment in Irish history and one that ignited the spirit of the nation. Following the death of John F. Kennedy, on 22nd November 1963, a number of Irish-American societies wished to establish a memorial forest as a living tribute to him in Ireland. The Irish government suggested this take the form of a national arboretum. The Arboretum was opened formally by President de Valera on 29th May 1968. Up to 100,000 visitors visit the Arboretum each year.

2018 Kennedy Summer School

More than 40 guest speakers will participate in debates on a wide range of subjects with current U.S. politics, the final phase of Brexit negotiations and the recent Referendum to Repeal the 8th Amendment featuring prominently from September 6th to 8th at the 2018 Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, County Wexford.

Highlights of the 3-day festival of politics and culture include an audience with American human rights activist and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy; American Presidential campaign strategist for John McCain, John Kasich and of and George H.W Bush, Mr. John Weaver, a sit down interview with Miriam O’Callaghan; the Kennedy Speaker’s Lunch’ will see EU Commissioner Phil Hogan give his update take on Brexit; Gerard Doherty former Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party will present his book “They were friends of mine, Bobby, Jack and Ted” to the John F. Kennedy Book and Research Archive at New Ross Library along with a number of Politicians, News correspondents and leading global academics who will all join in the discussions billed for the annual Kennedy Summer School and a special screening of  Greg Barker’s fly-on-the-wall documentary about Barrack Obama’s final year in office will take place, followed by a skype interview with Samantha Power the former US Ambassador to the United Nations.

For further details of the 2018 Kennedy Summer School Programme and tickets see kennedysummerschool.ie or call St. Michael’s Theatre on 051 421255.

Dr. Matthew Jebb – Director, National Botanic Gardens

Employed at the National Botanic Gardens since 1996, Dr. Matthew Jebb has been Director since 2010. An Oxford graduate and contributor to numerous publications, Dr. Jebb has travelled throughout the world on research projects and is regarded as one of the foremost botanists and scholars in his area of expertise.

Dr. Jebb is available for interviews for publication and broadcast media and should be contacted through the OPW Press Office at 046 942 6128 or 087 947 5552.