I’m writing about the article in the April 9th issue of the Liffey Champion, “Lives of Kildare Fenians Interconnected” which reports on a talk given by Michael Kenny at the Leixlip History Club on March 31. The talk was about three of Kildare’s Fenians – John Devoy, William Roantree, and John Kenny. The article neglected to mention one of the more dramatic if not most significant contributions John Kenny made to the Fenian cause.
In August 1914, shortly after England and Germany had declared war on each other, Kenny traveled to Europe to meet with German officials to present the Clan na Gaels’ proposal: if Germany would sell them guns and supply military leaders, the Irish would stage an uprising, thus putting England at war on two fronts. Despite the danger and difficulty of travelling through countries that were mobilizing for war, Kenny was able to meet with high ranking German officials in Italy and in Germany and discuss the proposal with them. He then traveled to Ireland and brought Tom Clarke (they had been close associates for decades) up to date. He gathered information from around the country and, after being warned by authorities several times to leave, he returned to New York.
A few weeks later he was asked to return to Ireland to deliver the funds ($350,000 in today’s dollars) to the Irish Volunteers headquarters in Dublin.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the lecture, but Michael Kenny had sent me a copy of his talk. I had provided him with the research I’ve done on John Kenny, my great-grandfather. (I’ve attached an article that appeared in Irish Central recently)