John F. Kennedy Arboretum

This arboretum is named after U.S. president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The name Fitzgerald came to Ireland with the Norman conquest.

The grounds of the arboretum provide a space for leisure and exercise. The Normans enjoyed a number of leisure activities which varied depending on a person’s social class.

A Matter of Class
Norman knights and lords could afford to spend time and money entertaining themselves. Some landowners created large enclosed deerparks, much like this arboretum. The deerparks were stocked with fallow deer which were imported from England in the early 13th century. As well as hunting popular activities among the wealthier classes included feasting and competing in tournaments.

Poorer people spent most of their time working. The little leisure time they did have was occupied by free entertainment such as storytelling or singing as well as outdoor games like early football and, for the Irish, hurling. Religious holy days, or holidays, provided an opportunity for local communities to congregate and engage in seasonal celebrations.

The tournaments enjoyed by the nobility were spectacular events which involved one-to-one ‘jousts’ on horseback as well as mock battles. Tournaments often involved real weapons and participating knights could be seriously injured or even killed.