The Dr John Kennedy Lecture

Founded in 2008, this series of unique lectures and dinners is held at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool. The lectures have brought an outstanding line-up of speakers to the podium to share their insights, knowledge, experiences, fears and hopes for the relationship between two great neighbours and nations.

The President of Ireland, The First Minister of Northern Ireland, past- Prime Ministers (Taoiseach), past-Presidents, a leading Ambassador (now Ireland’s man in Washington DC), Journalists and UK Ministers and Members of Parliament have all delivered the annual lectures to shed light on their individual recollections and contributions to UK-Irish relations, the delivery of peace, and their visions for the future of both nations.

The Institute has been supported and championed since it was a mere concept by John and his family. 

Attendances have been high since the late Dr Kevin McNamara, former Labour MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland delivered the inaugural lecture in 2008.

Sir Patrick Duffy, a Kennedy Lecturer in his own right in 2010, has also Chaired two special John Kennedy lectures in Ireland.

The 12th Kennedy Lecture will be delivered by the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on 22 November 2018.


Photograph shows Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and the 2016 Dr John Kennedy lecturer.


The Dr John Kennedy Lectures


Dr Kevin McNamara, Former Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1987-1994:
Why don’t they all go away? – Aspects of British Labour Policy Towards Northern Ireland, 1964 – 1970


Professor Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History, University of Oxford:
Ireland, Britain and nationalism in the 21st century


Sir Patrick Duffy, former Navy Minister and President of NATO Assembly:
Growing up Irish in Britain


The Rt Hon Peter Robinson, First Minister, MLA, Northern Ireland:
Rewriting the script: defining moments on the road to devolution


The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins:
Liverpool and its Irish Migrants


Daithi O’Ceallaigh, Director General of the Institute of International and European Affairs, Dublin; Former Irish Ambassador to the United Kingdom:
Representing Ireland


A panel discussion on Ireland and The First World War
Chair –
Professor Marianne Elliott, Blair Chair, Director, The Institute of Irish Studies
Panel members –
HE Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to London
Mr Fergal Keane, BBC Special Correspondent and Professorial Fellow, The Institute of Irish Studies
Professor Keith Jeffery, Professor of British History, Queen’s University Belfast


Trevor Maxwell Ringland, MBE, Northern Irish politician, former British and Irish Lions rugby player and solicitor:
Friendship our weapon of choice? Shaping future relationships in Northern Ireland and between these islands


Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, UN Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate and former President of Ireland:
Overcoming Challenges in a Climate Changed World


Mr Enda Kenny, TD Taoiseach from March 2011 to June 2017, Leader of Fine Gael from June 2002 to June 2017:
Ireland – England’s place in the Europe of the Future


Bertie Ahern (Taoiseach from 1997 to 2008, Leader of Fianna Fáil from 1994 to 2008)