On 252 hectares (620 acres) there are approximately 4,500 species of trees and shrubs. The facility tells the story of John F. Kennedy's great-grandfather, who was born in the nearby village of Dunganstown in 1820, which led John F. Kennedy to visit Wexford in the summer of 1963. The arboretum was opened on 29 May 1968 by the then Irish President Éamon de Valera. The facility was made possible mainly by donations from Americans of Irish origin. The complex also includes a panoramic road leading up to the summit of Slievecoiltia, which provides a wide view of the Hook peninsula and the surrounding area. At this vantage point, there is a memorial to those involved in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.