By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – A special millennium Irish arts celebration is planned in
Washington by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, who returns to America from her Dublin post this summer.
At 70, she is already sketching out a new career for herself and intends to get more deeply involved in some of the Kennedy family
She said she has been asked to lecture in the Kennedy School at Harvard, which wants to set up a study program on the peace process.
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“I would also like to do something with an Irish arts festival for the millennium at the Kennedy Center in Washington, of which I am a
board member,” the ambassador told Gay Byrne on a segment of RTE’s “Late Late Show” last week. “I think it would be great in March to have a huge arts festival from North and South bringing over the performing arts and so on.”
Kennedy Smith said she would also be continuing her work with the Very Special Arts Group, which she has been involved in since it started in 1974.
The group operates a program of arts opportunities for people with disabilities.
“This year will be the 25th anniversary in California and there
have been 85 countries coming for different arts programs, including dance and music and the whole spectrum of the arts,” she said.
“We have a program in every state and its just to open up and make the arts inclusive. You forget sometimes that you have people with a disability who are as artistic as anybody else but they just don’t have the opportunity to get to an art class or to get to a performance or to perform their music. . . . They also have a very good program here in Ireland.”
She revealed the she made a personal plea to President Clinton to be able to stay in the Phoenix Park Ambassador’s residence when he made his visit to Ireland. She said that when her brother President Kennedy visited Ireland in 1963, “he made the ambassador get out of the embassy and he took over. The ambassador had to go and stay in a hotel.”
She said she had met Clinton before his visit.
“I sort of snuck up to him and said, ‘You wouldn’t do that to me,
would you?” she said. “He was shocked. He said, ‘Of course not, Jean.’ So I was allowed to stay at the embassy, which was very nice.”