John Kennedy

Honored May 7, 2022

John Kennedy was born in Inwood, NY and raised in Dumont, NJ. He is the second of four children born to his mother, Margaret (Oates), from Claremorris, County Mayo and his father, Gerry, from Inagh, County Clare. He has two brothers, Richard (married to Kathy) and Kevin, and one sister, Debbie (married to Pat Carolan). John graduated from Saint Mary's Elementary School in 1976, Dumont High School in 1980, and Ramapo College in 1985 with a degree in Business Administration. 

After working in business for a few years, John decided to follow in his father's footsteps. He began training in the field of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. He received his Engineer's license in 1990. He has been working as an HVAC Engineer in a New York City building for 34 years. 

John was a member of The Boy Scouts of America, Troop 65. In 1979, he attained the highest rank possible, that of Eagle Scout. He was also a member of The Order of the Arrow, an earned achievement in a very exclusive affiliate of the Boy Scouts. 

Irish music was always part of John's childhood. At the age of 9, he began taking music lessons from the renowned teacher, Maureen Glenn. His father took him to Brooklyn for many years to take individual lessons and to participate in ceili bands. John went on to win many North American championship competitions and participated in the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil numerous times. 

John was an original member of the Bergen Irish Accordion Marching Band. With that group, he played in many annual parades in New York and New Jersey. They participated in numerous shows and the Irish festival in Baltimore, Maryland. He is also a founding member of the Green Gates Ceili Band. 

Eventually, John was approached by a fellow musician and asked if he would consider teaching the Button Accordion to beginners. He took on several students, some of whom went on to win at the national level and competed in Ireland. One of his students placed in the All-Ireland three times. John also taught workshops, which allowed him to share his love of music. He is always ready to offer tips and encouragement, and above all, share Irish tunes. 

John is proud to be an active member of the Mike Rafferty-Joe Madden Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. He has been playing at its monthly ceili for over twenty years. 

In addition, he is one of the musicians who regularly plays at the Doonbeg Social Club, the Pearl River Ceili, the Dumont Ceili and various others. 

In 1999, John met his wife, Donna (Guilfoyle), on a blind date. She is a nurse whose parents come from Donegal. They live in Hopewell Junction, NY, have 23 nieces and nephews, and love to travel. John has shared his love of music throughout his life -- from the East Coast to Chicago, and as far away as New Zealand and Australia. He is very proud of his Irish heritage and is devoted to keeping the tradition of Irish music alive. It makes John so happy to bring the joy of music to others!