Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who worked closely on the negotiations leading to the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland, said Kennedy "lived to see two great chasms bridged, between Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland and between black and white in his own United States."
"These achievements, which were the dreams imagined by his brothers in his youth, were the legacy of a long life and of a good and great man who, no matter how often he stumbled or the cause stalled, continued with a tenacity and a great belief that was the hallmark of everything he did and of the man he was," Ahern said in statement.
Irish President Mary McAleese said Kennedy would be remembered "as a hugely important friend to this country during the very difficult times."
McAleese hailed Kennedy for making an "outstanding and remarkable personal contribution" to Ireland, "despite the sacrifice and sorrow that was part of the overall contribution of the entire Kennedy family," adding that his death would be "greeted with a great sense of sadness here."
These sentiments were echoed by Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, who said Kennedy was "the embodiment of the Irish immigrant story," and that Ireland owed him "a particular debt of gratitude ? for always being a true and loyal friend and steadfast supporter."
"He was, to the very end, a true profile in courage," Martin said.