Journalist / Literary Critic
This man was a complicated and enigmatic figure – a man before his time – who was frequently involved in political and ecclesiastical controversies plus various court cases. His legacy is remembered in Aughamore. He was a self proclaimed Unionist from 1907.
Patrick Dermot Kenny was born in Lismagansion, Aughamore, Co. Mayo during 1862. His mother was Mary nee Doyle, (she died on 30th January 1898 aged 70 years) and his father was Patrick, he had five siblings. He attended Doogarry National School as a child. Kenny emigrated aged sixteen to England during 1882 he was employed as a labourer in the Cheshire district. [i] With assistance from Michael Davitt and others his education continued. P. D. Kenny presided at a Land League meeting in Bury following another meeting with Davitt. Sometime later he entered Manchester University to study Political Economy for three years. Following his parents demise he returned to Aughamore Co. Mayo to continue the farming business. He then immersed himself in the scientific methods of both agriculture and horticulture whilst he continued to write. [ii] Kenny listed himself as Author, Journalist, Farmer, age 48 years on the 1911 Census Returns at Lismagansion, Aughamore. [iii]
Many of his early journalistic articles to certain newspapers are now out of print. The Newcastle Daily Chronicle July 13th 1864 – 29th July 1922 continued on as Newcastle Daily Chronicle, North Mail from 1922 until March 1923. In Glasgow, Kenny worked for the Newcastle Daily eventually becoming editor for a year. (1896 – 1897) He moved to Brighton to become a Literary Critic for the Sunday Review. He met the young journalist Winston Churchill whilst working at the Morning Post. Kenny collaborated with Walter Long on articles about Ireland for the Saturday Review. Kenny contributed to The Leader (1902 – 1905), he co – edited the Weekly Nationalist in 1905 with T. M. Kettle and Francis Sheehy – Skeffington. He was regular contributor to The London Outlook from 1911 to 1914 plus articles for The English Review from 1927 to 1931.
In 1896 he penned “How to Stop Strikes” 1894 J. Hayward Manchester. During 1903 he wrote “Connaught Ranging 1. How We Drink 11. How We Think, then produced “Economics for Ireland” 1904 Maunsel Dublin, plus the “Irish Peasant.” The “Official Philosophy; A Criticism of Co – Operation in Ireland” was produced during 1905 Navan. During 1907 he published The Sorrows of Ireland Maunsel Dublin, then “My Little Farm” 1915 Maunsel Dublin plus the “Irish Peasant” in 1904. The “Handbook for Unionist Candidates” was published in 1909, followed by “My Little Farm” in 1915 also the “Five years of Irish “Freedom” (1926). His last known article was written for Ireland Today dated March 1937.
In Ireland Kenny chaired a debate on J.M. Synge’s play “Playboy of the Western World” in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin during the January 1907 riots at the request of W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. On hearing of their decision to appoint him as ChaiRman he was most surprised as he felt that he was “surly the most unpopular man in all Ireland.”
His philosophy may have been freedom of thought or expression when he wrote “Given freedom, character follows; given character, progress follows, given progress, the greatness of Ireland follows.” In his publication “ My Little Farm” he wrote the following; “after fifteen years in the Strand writing, writing, writing, I had produced little or nothing for more than a day’s notice, though feeling that I could do something better. I wanted to write, really, in books, what I thought, instead of writing in newspapers, what other people pretended to think.”
P. D. Kenny died of a heart attack in 1944 he is buried in Aughamore Cemetery in Co. Mayo. A Cross was erected on the side road where he died. His Grand- nephew, Tim Duffy gave an Oration by commenting on P. D. Kenny’s contribution to the literary world plus unveiled a Memorial at the graveside on October 24th 1993. [iv]
The Kenny/Naughton Society celebrates P. D Kenny’s works during the annual Autumn School (a permanent base was secured during 1998) on the October Bank Holiday weekend. The weekend consists of lectures, local tours, workshops, new publications, drama plus entertainment. The Kenny / Naughton Society was established during 1993 plus re structured in 2001. [v]
Patrick Caferkey / Joe Coen / Paul W.D. Rogers mentioned Kenny In the 2003 Doogarry N.S. Reunion booklet. Tom Kennedy wrote an article in the Western People. P.D. Kenny was mentioned in various articles; by Patrick Maurne Q U B July 2004, “Between Fleet Street and Mayo; P.D. Kenny and the Culture wars of Edwardian Ireland.” [vi] In the Irish Review in 2002, 29 pg 51 – 57 Cork University Press Lionel Pilkington wrote of “The most unpopular man in Ireland: P.D. Kenny, J.M. Synge and Irish Cultural History.” At the Pat Kenny Bill Naughton Lectures of 1994 Adrian Kenny read “The Life and Works of P.D. Kenny. [vii] His articles of Politics, Literature, Science and Art (3rd November 1855 to 23rd July 1922) are now held in the British Library Newspaper Library. [viii]