by ehistoryadmin on April 4, 2024

Leinster Leader 22 January 1949

Noted Kildare man’s death

Late Mr. C. Kenny

With sincere regret we announce the death of Mr. Christopher Kenny, Main Street, Rathangan, which occurred in Naas Hospital on Saturday after a brief illness. Aged 65 years, he was one of the town’s best known and most popular residents. Belonging to one of the oldest families in the district, the deceased was one of five brothers, all of whom distinguished themselves during the fight for freedom. He was an ardent and passionately sincere patriot whose connection with the National movement began in his boyhood. At the age of 15 years he walked to Edenderry to attend the 1898 celebrations at the grave of Father Kearns, being then a member of the National Volunteers, which he afterwards commanded. He followed the O’Rahilly in the Redmondite split in 1914 and went over to the Irish Volunteers. He went to Dublin to join the 1916 rebellion but was arrested and sent back. Shortly afterwards he was again arrested and lodged in Wakefield Prison, England. His four brothers were also lodged in the same jail, and it is of interest to note that at the same time four brothers belonging to families from Wexford (the Kennedy’s), Galway (Brennan’s from Clare Bridge) and the Hyde’s (from Cork) were interned there. Released at the general amnesty in 1917 the deceased and his brothers continued to work for Irish freedom and threw themselves wholeheartedly into the I.R.A. movement. In 1920 he was again arrested, and with his brother, Joseph, was sent to the Curragh. They were amongst the first prisoners to go into the famous (or infamous) Rath Camp, which soon housed many prominent Irishmen. These included the late Rory O’Connor, Lieut. General P. McMahon (afterwards Chief of Staff of the Army and now Secretary to the Department of Defence), Thomas Derrig, Minister for Education in the last Government, Desmond Fitzgerald, first Minister for Defence, and many other patriotic Irishmen. The deceased became acquainted with them all and was responsible during that time for organising a daring escape for Rory O’Connor. The deceased ahd made friends with a carpenter working in the Curragh, Mr. Harry Rose, an Englishman. The latter agreed to Mr. Kenny’s suggestion that he be accompanied out some evening by his “mate,” with the result that Mr. O’Connor walked by the Guards with no more disguise than his coat slung over his arm and some saw dust sprinkled over his clothes. The deceased was released in December, 1921, after the signing of the Treaty. He took the Treaty side and was commanding officer of Free State forces in the area and took an active part in the defence of the district at that time. He later resigned and became Postmaster for Rathangan. An armed hold-up resulted in the robbery of the office, but with his usual courage the deceased followed the men armed with a rifle. He came across them in Clonbullogue and opened fire, forcing them to take to the fields for escape.

Despite his active connection with the troubled years of the “Split2 the deceased numbered his friends in all walks of political life in the country. At one election he had as guests in his house the candidates of three opposing parties, including Mr. W. Norton, T.D., now An Tanaiste. He was granted a disability pension some years ago for an injury sustained during the campaign.

Next to his love of country, the deceased was a true Kildare man and Gael. Imbued with an intense love of his native town he was intimately connected with every movement which had for its object the betterment of Rathangan. He was one of the most generous hearted of men who liked nothing better than to help his less fortunate brethren. As a result he was loved and respected by all who knew him. His funeral, on Monday, and the removal of the remains from Naas on Sunday evening, were two of the most striking demonstrations of public sorrow ever witnessed in Rathangan. The coffin draped in the tri-colour was accompanied by an escort of I.R.A. veterans from Rathangan, Edenderry, Brackna and Allen. A Firing Party under Mr. M. Dunne (a relative) fired volleys over the grave, and the Last Post was sounded by Bugler P. O’Connell, Curragh. Rev. Father T. Kennedy, C.C., officiated.

The chief mourners included: – Mrs. E. Kenny (widow, Christopher, Helen, Gretta and Mary (children), Michael, Patrick, Joseph and Jack Kenny (brothers), Mrs. Michl. Dunne (sister). There was also a large circle of other relatives but space does not permit their inclusion.

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