Martin George Kenny1866

Martin George Kenny 1866

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Place of migration
Migrated to /Born in Canada

“Knock”ing on Galway’s Door by Michael Kenny

My grandfather, Martin George Kenny, was born on March 15, 1866 in the Townland of Knockakilleen, in the Civil Parish of Kinvarradoorus, in the County of Galway, Ireland. His father was Joseph Kenny, born in the County of Galway, Ireland, approximately 1829 and died in Ohio, USA in 1923. His mother was Sarah Nilan, also born in the County of Galway, Ireland, with no birth or death dates available. Records show that Nilan was also spelled Nylan and Naylan.

Martin George Kenny had ten siblings as follows:

Thomas Kenny born December 17, 1861.

Mary Kenny born February 22, 1863.

Michael Kenny born September 3, 1864.

Patrick Kenny born January 30, 1868.

John Kenny September 27, 1869.

Margaret Kenny born March 19, 1871.

James Kenny born August 24, 1872.

Stephen Kenny born December 23, 1873.

Joseph Kenny born December 7, 1875.

Sarah Kenny born October 25, 1880.

All of the siblings listed above were born in Knockakilleen, Galway, Ireland with the exception of Sarah, the youngest, who was likely born in North America, probably Chatham, Ontario, Canada.

The foregoing was collected from very scant family records.

Certified Irish civil birth certificates were obtained for Michael, Martin and Stephen for research purposes. On all three birth certificates the name of the father is listed as Joseph Kenny, and the name of the mother is listed as Sarah Nilan. The place of birth for all three is listed as Knockakilleen and the occupation of the father is listed as farmer.

It is likely the entire family, in the 1860s and 1870s, were tenant farmers in the Knockakilleen area, and the landlord may have been Patrick M. Lynch. Knockalilleen, itself, is only about 153 acres and to this day is rural, dotted with farms, country cottages and a B&B by the name of the Atlantic Retreat. A road dividing the farms comes to a dead end after a short while where derelict buildings are found. The Townland is not even indicated by a road marker and this road is the only road in Knockakilleen. You need to ask a local if this is, in fact, Knockakilleen. I visited in May, 2018.

The family probably arrived in Canada between 1875 and 1880. It appears many family members settled in southern Ontario, in Chatham. Also, it appears some family members settled in different areas of Ontario and some went to the United States. Several family members are interred at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Chatham, Ontario.

Martin Kenny, his parents Joseph and Sarah and most of his siblings appear in the 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 Canadian censuses. No record of the Kenny family arriving at Canadian or American ports has been found to date.

Civil records indicate that both Martin and his older brother Michael, resided in Chatham, Ontario. Considering the large size of the family, it is interesting that very little information exists concerning the movements of various family members, where they eventually settled in Canada and the US, and other information regarding their offspring.

Martin George Kenny married Marie Bechard (French Canadian) on September 29, 1902, in Chatham, Ontario. They had three children as follows:

Anna Marie Kenny born January 24, 1905.

Adrian Kenny born February 15, 1914.

Patrick Nylan Joseph Kenny born April 18, 1919. (my father)

Martin George Kenny died October 8, 1927 in Chatham, Ontario. Marie Kenny, formerly Bechard, died February 16, 1927, in Chatham, Ontario. (my grandparents)

My name is Michael Anthony Kenny born July 3, 1954 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I am the author of this document. My father Dr. Patrick Nylan Joseph Kenny (son of Martin George) was born April 18, 1919 in Chatham, Ontario and died March 16, 1993 in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

My mother Mary Leona Faubert was born December 29, 1918 in Paincourt, (near Chatham) Ontario and died March 17, 2010 in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Patrick and Mary Leona married on July 26, 1943 in Chatham, Ontario They had seven children as follows:

Barbara Anne born April 23, 1944 in Vancouver, BC.

David Francis born December 3, 1945 in Chatham, Ontario.

Lawrence Martin born February 7, 1947 in Chatham, Ontario.

Daniel Patrick born July 11, 1950 in Chatham, Ontario.

Michael Anthony born July 3, 1954 in Vancouver BC. (author)

Christopher John born July 28, 1956 in Vancouver BC.

Kathleen Teresa born July 30, 1963 in Vancouver BC.



Martin George Kenny’s date of birth is shown as March 15, 1866. This date of birth makes sense with the sequence of births in his family. This information is from family records.

Martin’s certified Irish civil birth certificate indicates a birth date of March 23, 1874, eight years later.

Martin’s baptismal certificate indicates the date of baptism as March 18, 1866 in the Church of St. Joseph’s, Parish of Kinvara, the Diocese of Galway.

It appears Martin’s civil birth registration was done late, given the above dates, possibly forgotten or neglected at the time. In any event, it was officially registered for civil purposes on March 23, 1874. This may have been performed in preparation to leave Ireland for Canada. No record has been obtained of a port of embarkation from Ireland or anywhere else in the British Isles to North America.

The purpose of this writing is to gather more information about the area where my grandfather and family members were born in Knockakilleen and possibly beyond in greater Galway; possible distant relatives still living in Ireland, and the many descendants who may be living in Canada and the US by virtue of the many Kenny family members who left Ireland for North America in the late 1870s.


Additional Information
Date of Birth 15th Mar 1866
Date of Death 8th Oct 1927
Father (First Name/s and Surname) Martin's father was Joseph Kenny and his mother's maiden name was Sarah Nilan. Including Martin there were 11 children of Joseph and Sarah. They lived in Knockakilleen, Kinvarradoorus, Galway. The entire family migrated to Canada.

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