All Hallows College to close after Kennedy letters sale off

All Hallows College in Dublin has announced it is to close its doors only days after its proposed sale of Jackie Kennedy’s letters was stopped.

The former United States first lady’s letters were written to Vincentian Fr Joseph Leonard, who died in 1964.

The proposed sale was stopped after the intervention of the Kennedy family.

On May 23, All Hallows College announced its intention to close, “with huge regret and deep sadness”.

The college, which has 450 current students, had run an increasing deficit for many years.

The Irish Department of Education said All Hallows undergraduate numbers had not reached a cap for student fee funding for the last five years.

The college gets a grant in lieu of tuition fee funding from the department.

“The wind down of the college will begin immediately,” a college spokeswoman said.

All Hallows will try to help current students complete their courses, and there will be consultation with more than 70 staff members.

Thousands of priests who followed the Irish diaspora around the world did their seminary training at All Hallows, which was founded in 1842.

But in the 1980s, as seminarian numbers dropped, the college opened its doors to lay people and courses evolved in areas like social justice and church and culture.

In 2008, All Hallows, with two other institutes, became a college of Dublin City University.

It appears the sale of the Kennedy letters was a last ditch attempt to keep All Hallows financially afloat.

After “a stringent programme of sustainability” did not turn finances around, the college did an inventory of its valuable books, paintings and other items, with a view to sale.

It was in this context that staff decided to sell the Kennedy letters, which had been held at the college since 1964.

The letters were expected to fetch NZ$2million at auction in June.

Excerpts were published in media ahead of the proposed sale.

This prompted criticism that such correspondence on personal, spiritual matters involving a priest should be kept confidential.


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