When I was growing up in Clare both my father
and mother’s family had mixed political allegiances; politics was
banned from discussion. My grandmother Maggie Quinn was Cumann na mBan
and Fine Gael. We have her medal. My grandfather’s brother Edward
Gallery died fighting in the Boer war. My mother’s maternal family
were rabidly Fianna Fail; her granduncle Captain Sean Allen was executed
for his IRA activities in Cork in the War of Independence. My maternal
grandfather said that his grandfather was a unionist policeman. The ban
on politics may have been wise.
As I grew older the Gallery family talked of their cousin who left them
money to start businesses, General Sir Thomas Kelly Kenny. They called
it compensation to my great grandmother for the loss of her son Edward.
My great great grandmother Ellen Kenny was daughter of David of Treanmanagh
and was the General’s aunt. As we researched my family I gathered
information on the General with the help of Doctor Paddy Waldron’s
extensive research. Here is my story; it shows a very different Ireland
In 1824 Mary Kenny daughter of David Kenny of Treanmanagh married Matt
the Manager Kelly, bank manager in Kilrush. They had a large family. Her
fifth son Thomas Kelly was born on 27 February1840 in Kilrush, where they
lived above the bank. Thomas went to boarding school in Carlow and later
to Sandhurst. In those days many Catholics went into the army. Indeed
on the Kenny side Thomas came from a military family. His uncle Mathias
Kenny graduated with a medical degree from Edinburgh University in 1810
and then joined the army as a surgeon. Mathias served in the Peninsular
Wars and is recorded at the battle of Waterloo. Matthias made his fortune
and married a rich wife Anna Maria Pollard of Castle Pollard. He bought
estates of 5000 thousand acres in Clare (near Treamnanagh) when the O’Brien
estates were being sold off. Mathias’s brother David Kenny was a
surgeon in the Indian army.
Thomas Kelly’s military career commenced when he was appointed Ensign
without purchase in the 1st Battalion, 2nd (The Queen's Royal) Regiment
of Foot on 2 February 1858 and was appointed to command the escort of
General Sir James Jackson General Officer Commanding Cape of Good Hope.
When Sir James Jackson was succeeded by General Wynward he was appointed
ADC. He resigned this post on the outbreak of war with China in 1860 and
accompanied his regiment to the Far East where he was appointed ADC to
the Commander of the Queens, Sir Alfred Jephson. He held this post for
the duration of the war. He was appointed Lieutenant by purchase on 12
October 1860, the day Pekin surrendered to the Allies and engaged in the
China war at Sinho and at the taking or Tanku and Taku forts. He was mentioned
in despatches and was decorated. He was appointed Captain by purchase
on 20 July 1866. He was (acting) Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General
(QMG) in Bombay from 25 May 1869 to April 1870 when he was sent to Abyssinia
on the outbreak of war. He was in charge of the transport train at the
front and was mentioned by Lord Napier in despatches for "zeal, energy
and ability". In 1875 he graduated at the staff training college
and received a medal in 1877.
Dr Mathias Kenny left his fortune to Thomas Kelly, his nephew, on condition
that he take the name Kenny which he did in 1874 becoming Kelly Kenny.
While Thomas Kelly Kenny was active in his military career he also took
a keen interest in affairs in Co Clare. He acted as JP for Clare (after
Mathias Kenny’s death) as had his father Matt Kelly, his uncle Mathias
Kenny and did his brother Matthew Butler Kelly. He was patron of the school
at Scropul near Treanmanagh founded by his uncle Mathias Kenny. Local
people wrote to him to intercede to get their family member transferred
from a job in the postal service in England back to London. He took a
close interest in his large extended family. Cecil Kenny recounts that
while on active service he always wore black wool socks made from the
wool of the sheep his brother Matthew Butler Kelly kept at Treanmanagh.
He also said Doolough Lake was good for small trout fishing if you could
survive the flies (I can attest to the evil propensities of the midgets
in Doonogan down the road). Thomas Kelly was a keen shot and shot with
His family had a strong history of involvement in politics and local government.
His mother's first cousin Richard Kenny was Vice Provost for Ennis in
1827 and also served as a grand juror; her first cousin Dean John Kenny
of Kilrush and Ennis was an active figure in political and social reform
in Kilrush and Ennis. His second cousin Father Matthew J. Kenny was one
of the first two presidents of Clare Farmers association and a founder
member of the Land League. His uncle Father Timothy Kelly was an active
campaigner for famine relief as parish priest of Kilrush in the famine
years. In the late 1840s his father Matt Kelly & Gallery and Kenny
uncles and cousin were poor law commissioners.
Following in this family tradition, in 1879 the then Major Thomas Kelly-Kenny
put his name forward for the April by-election in Co Clare. He was opposed
by the Catholic clergy, withdrew his candidacy and did not go to the poll.
Ignatius Murphy recounts in his history of Killaloe diocese that Bishop
Ryan and his priests met in Ennis to discuss the merits of the various
potential candidates and did not endorse Major H Kelly-Kenny (sic). The
April 11th "Limerick & Tipperary Vindicator" says that the
Bishop and many curates were pro Major Kelly Kenny as he was Catholic,
locally born and a local landowner. Against him were his Liberal politics.
The majority of the curates voted against him, the Limerick and Tipperary
Vindicator reports: "A strong adverse expression on behalf of the
Catholic curates who constitute a large majority overwhelmed the scales
against Major Kelly-Kenny who not withstanding rumour to the contrary
has withdrawn". The paper goes on to quote his resignation letter
and also mentions that his cousin Matt Kenny solicitor of Ennis (a Unionist
and later High Sheriff of Galway) was his conducting agent. The clergy
later supported the O'Gorman Mahon as a home rule candidate. He was narrowly
elected. Some of the curates' sentiments are possibly expressed by Father
Matthew J Kenny in his post-election address. He expressed a wish for
the downfall of the Liberal and Tory parties in Ireland and the end of
Cecil S Kenny recounts that Major Kelly-Kenny put his candidacy forward
for the High Sheriff of Clare and was put forward on the roll in 1880
(an appointment by the Lord Lieutenant from three candidates) but did
Major Kelly-Kenny was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel on 26 July 1881, and
Colonel in 1887, he was Assistant Adjutant General (AAG) and QMG from
that date until 30 June 1889. Continuing in senior appointments, he was
AAG and QMG, North-Eastern District from 1 July 1889 – 21 September
1892, where he commanded the training camp at Strensall Camp, Yorkshire.
Later he became AAG Aldershot Garrison from 28 December 1893 – 12
March 1896 on the staff of the Duke of Connaught.
In the Second Anglo-Boer war of 1899–1902 he was, as a Lieutenant-General,
General Officer Commanding the 6th Division of the South African field
force. He was twice mentioned in despatches and received the Queen’s
South African Medal with four clasps. He was involved in the relief of
Kimberley, the battles of Paardeberg, Poplar Grove and Driefontein.
The General was a close friend of King Edward VII who treated him as confidential
military advisor. In October 1901 he was appointed Adjutant-General to
the Forces which post he held until 1904. This was at the King’s
insistence; he liked him for his industry and administrative capacity
and dislike of jobbery. However Lord Roberts (the commander in chief)
did not share this opinion; the General was conservative about reform,
the War Office was opposed to his appointment. The General did not work
well with his colleagues who tried to get his powers reduced (which the
king opposed). They then tried to move him back to command in 1902 offering
him the command of the 4th Army Corp. This he declined. The King was happy
about the General’s decision. In October when again it was suggested
that he be transferred to an Army corps the King wrote to Mr Broderick
saying that the Adjutant General was a most able officer with a thorough
knowledge of his profession who would be a loss to the war office and
that he was most surprised that Lord Hornby described him as reactionary
when it came to reform. The War Office bowed to the King's wishes and
left the General in his post until the reforms in 1904.
In June 21st 1904 he was conferred with the order of the Bath, Knight
Grand Cross, K.C.B. In 1905 he attended the wedding of the Crown Prince
of Germany with Prince Arthur of Connaught where the Kaiser decorated
him with the order of the Grand Cross of the Red Eagle. (He had previously
received from the Kaiser the order 1st class of the Red Eagle). In 1906
he accompanied Prince Arthur of Connaught to Japan as part of a mission
to present the Order of the Garter to the Emperor. While on this trip
and speaking with the Mikado, the Mikado remarked on how he had to improve
the horses in Japan the breed being small. The General replied that "It
is not always the big horses and the big men that do the best work"
which compliment made the Mikado smile. On this trip the General received
from the Emperor the Grand Cross of the Rising Sun. On his return to England
he was created by King Edward VI Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.
Documentation on his trip is held in the Jesuit Archives in Dublin, Ireland.
In his day the General was quite a celebrity appearing on cigarette cards
commemorating his Boer war successes and marches. Sir Thomas was friendly
with several members of the Royal Family, including the Prince of Wales
and Prince Arthur of Connaught and stayed in both Sandringham and Frogmore
as a guest of the Prince of Wales on shooting parties. According to Cecil
S Kenny he acted as confidential military adviser to King Edward VII and
was on friendly terms with Queen Alexandra, who carved a tea table for
him herself. He accompanied the French ex Empress Eugenie on a steam yachting
trip around Ireland in 1909.
The General largely lived in the UK, where his clubs were Army and Navy
and Arthurs. His father Matt Kelly built Doolough Lodge at Treammanagh
in the 1850s having bought the leases at Treanmanagh from his brother-in-law
James Kenny in 1849. He left this house to Thomas who then let Doolough
lodge to his brother Matthew Butler Kelly JP, who is recorded as living
at that address in Thoms. There are reports that royalty stayed at Doolough
Lodge with the General. These have not been substantiated by consultation
of the material in the Royal Archives, the Royal Archivist has confirmed
that the Prince of Wales did not visit Ireland in 1906 and did not stay
with the General in Ireland between 1903 and 1906. There is a report that
George V stayed at Doolough Lodge during his visit to Ireland in July
1911. The Royal Archives have no record of this visit.
The General retired in 1907 and died at Hove on 26 December 1914. He is
buried in Hove Cemetery having left strict instructions in his will that
he did not want a military funeral.
Cecil S Kenny records that one of the last things he did was to visit
his cousin Lieutenant Bertram Maurice Kenny in hospital, where he was
seriously wounded. The General was proud of the family connection with
Lieutenant Kenny's father his third cousin William Kenny (judge, privy
councillor and unionist MP) to whom he left £1000 in his will. Interestingly
in the 1916 witness statements in the Bureau of Military archives Sean
Fitzgibbon says that Sir Thomas Myles wished to put forward Kelly-Kenny
as leader of the Irish Volunteers.
The executors of his will included his nephew, Matthew Devitt, a Jesuit
priest and his nephew Thomas O'Gorman of Cahircalla, to whom he left the
bulk of his large estate, with some small bequests to other family including
to my granduncle George Gallery and to my great grandmother Minnie Taaffe
Gallery money for her children except George. Before he died he had sold
his lands to the tenants under the land purchase Act 1909. This sale ended
300 years of Kennys in Treanmanagh.
A collection of his personal papers inherited by Fr. Devitt are now in
the Irish Jesuit Archives.
I have found in my research no living male Kenny descendants and no living
male Kelly descendants of this line. There are many in the female line
but the only Kenny descendants I know of still living in Clare are my
own family. Should any reading this like to get in touch I will be happy
to hear from them.
1. Confirmation of his birth New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXVIII, Issue
2, 11 January 1900, Page 4 and manifest for his trip from Liverpool to
Ellis Island on the Mauretania on 23–29 January 1909:   (line
13, question 29).
2. Burke, Bernard; Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1912). A genealogical and
heraldic history of the landed gentry of Ireland. Harrison. p. 368. See
also Landed Estates Database. An incorrect name is given for his father
in Kelly-Kenny, GENERAL SIR THOMAS, G.C.V.O., Catholics Who's Who, F.
C. (Francis Cowley) Burnand.
3. See Kenny's obituary in the British Medical Journal, 10 October 1874,
5. The West Australian, Perth Wa, 28th December 1914
6. “Scropul National School 1860 - 2012?, published by OAC, oac.ie
7. Correspondence with the Department of Education held in the Jesuit
8. Dunboyne collection of newspaper clippings on Clare, Lord Dunboyne,
9. The Diocese of Killaloe, 1850-1904, Ignatius Murphy published 1994
10. Dunboyne collection of Newspaper clippings on Clare, Lord Dunboyne,
11. The Diocese of Killaloe 1850-1904, published 1994, page 225,out of
12. Clare Elections, Limerick and Tipperary Vindicator, April 11, 1879
13. The Clare Elections, Kieran Sheedy. 1993
14. The London Gazette: no. 27360. p. 6400. 1 October 1901.
15. London Gazette, 21st June 1904, http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/27688/supplements/4007
16. The Garter Mission to Japan, Lord Redesdale
17. The Garter Mission to Japan, Lord Redesdale, page 26, Bibliolife,
18. correspondance in National Archives Dublin, correspondance in Jesuit
archives and royal diaries in Royal Archives Windsor
19. Clare Champion (published 10 June 2011, web version undated) http://www.clarechampion.ie/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6534
20. Matthew Butler Kelly will 1910, Jesuit archives
21. Houses of Clare, Hugh W.L. Weir, Ballinakella Press, Whitegate, Co.
Clare, 2nd edition, 1999, p.103.
22. Obituary in The Times Monday, 28 Dec 1914; pg. 9; Issue 40736; col
C. His place of death is incorrect in the New York Times of 27 December
23. The Times, Wednesday, 30 Dec 1914; pg. 11; Issue 40738; col F; Court
25. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and
27. Houses of Clare, Hugh W.L. Weir, Ballinakella Press, Whitegate, Co.
Clare, 1986, The references to the royal visit to Doolough Lodge in this
book have not been verifiable from other sources.
28. The Boer War; Thomas Pakenham; Cardinal, 1979; ISBN 0-7474-0976-5
29. The Great Boer War, Arthur Conan Doyle, London, Smith, Elder &
30. Mitford's Japan: The Memoirs and Recollections, 1866–1906, of
Algernon Bertram Mitford, the First Lord Redesdale by Mitford, Hugh Cortazzi,
Algernon Bertram Mitford
31. Genealogies of Kenny and Lysaght, Cecil Stacpoole Kenny, manuscript
32. Wikipedia article on Sir Thomas Kelly Kenny http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Kelly-Kenny
33. King Edward VII, a Biography Part II, Kissinger publishing 2004
34. General Sir Thomas Kelly-Kenny GCB GCVO 1902-1914 at www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk
Website of Surrey Regiment (British army)
Clare Champion (published 10 June 2011, web version undated
Anglo Boer war containing extracts from many books which mention the General
and a letter written from him to Lord Roberts in 1900.