How I found my Irish Roots
By Joseph A. Kenny      Jan, 17, 2016

My research began in 1989.  I knew from family lore, that our Kennys came from County Wicklow and settled in Smiths Falls, Ontario.  So, Smiths Falls is where I began my initial research. 

After searching the Catholic Church records, I was able to find my 3rd great grandfather, Thomas Kenny, his wife Ellen Purcell and their five children, Bartholomew, James, Edward, Richard, and Anne.  I also saw a separate family, Sarah Kenny that was married to Thomas Balfe, and that this marriage took place in 03 Nov 1831, in Kennystown, County Wicklow.

About a decade later of trying to find where in Ireland Thomas and family came from, I finally hit the jackpot, when a fellow researcher discovered the Earl Fitzwilliam eviction records, compiled by Jim Rees of Arklow, in which these exact families were shown leaving from the Fitzwilliam Estates in County Wicklow; Sarah Kenny Balfe and family from Kennystown, County Wicklow and Thomas with his family from Motabower, County Wexford.

I visited the Motabower area and discovered that Kennystown was just a stone’s throw away, across the road, into County Wicklow.

In 2002, my sister Susan and I visited the Kennystown area, (near Carnew) this time inquiring if there are still Kennys there, and discovered that there were indeed!
We showed them the paper genealogy and they confirmed that it was their family too and we have been close since, with our several visits to Ireland and even these Kennystown Kennys visiting us, in Nebraska.

 In 2008, the Kennystown Kennys introduced me to their cousin, Sheila Whelan, a resident of Avoca.    A few years later, around 2013/2014, I had heard from a several other Kennys, some being:  Patrick Kenny Avoca/Dublin, Amy Kenny, from Ashford and Kay McLaughlin from Avoca, , stating they had reviewed my research and that they had family that also left Kennystown in the late 1800’s to work the mines in Tigroney, Avoca.

Digging into my research papers, we had discovered that there were 4 separate Kenny families, all from Kennystown, County Wicklow, two of these families living in Avoca, and not even knowing how they were related, one still in Kennystown and one living in America.

On the 12th of March, 2016, we will be having a Kenny Family Reunion based on the 4 families of Kennys that originated from Kennystown. This will take place at “The Meeting” north of Avoca, at 3PM.

These four families are Descendants from as following people:

·         Thomas Kenny  (1794-1861) (my family in America)

·         Denis Kenny (1845-1923) (Amy and Kay’s family in Avoca and elsewhere)

·         Richard Kenny (1875-1944) (Sheila Whelan & Patrick Kenny’s family  in Avoca and elsewhere)

·         Denis Kenny (1918-1995)  Families from present day Kennystown)

All of these families share a common 4th great grandfather, Bartholomew Kenny (1767-1827) and all 4 of these families either did not know each other or know how they were related until the organizing of this reunion