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Kenny, Kevin John

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  • Persona
  • 1881-1954

Kevin John Kenny was born on 22 June 1881 at 12 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin, to Michael C Kenny and Catherine Kenny (née Fleming). Michael, a veteran of the Fenian Rising of 1867, worked as a lithographic printer and Catherine as a bookfolder. Kevin left school early and started working as an advertising agent at the age of thirteen for the Irish Wheelman, a cycling publication. In 1902 he became the manager of the Leader newspaper, edited by DP Moran, and published the Irish Manufacturers' Directory with MF Phelan. He also established his own advertising firm, K. J. Kenny and Co., around this time. In 1908, he helped establish and was business manager for The Nationist, edited by Tom Kettle, and in the same year co-founded The Nationalist with Frank Gallagher, PJ Little and Joseph Mary Plunkett.

Kevin founded Kenny's Advertising Agency (KAA), based at Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, in 1906. KAA would go on to become one of the leading advertising agencies in Ireland. As part of his work at the agency, Kevin solicited advertising and worked on publications with several eminent nationalists in the years leading up to and following the 1916 Easter Rising, including Patrick Pearse, Arthur Griffith, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and James Creed Meredith (see sub-series C2/1/1/1). Kevin also ran a printing business, Kenny’s Press, which possibly printed many of these publications. Any particular political sympathies indicated by these services did not prevent Kenny's Advertising Agency from accepting commissions from the British government to run a series of recruitment advertisements during the First World War (see sub-series C2/1/1/2); nor, it would seem, did they prevent Kevin from circulating public notices on behalf of the British government (see sub-series C2/1/1/4). Kenny's Advertising Agency would continue this type of service on behalf of the First and Second Dáils as shown in material included in the following sub-series: C2/1/1/1, C2/1/1/3 and C2/1/1/4.

Running an advertising business during such tumultuous times and providing a service for clients on both sides of the political divide meant that the work of Kenny's Advertising Agency often came in for criticism and scrutiny from various parties. This can be seen in the recruitment advertisements sub-series (C2/1/1/2), and in the subseries relating to the Belfast Boycott (C2/1/1/3) when Kenny's ran advertisements for 'Lamb's of Inchicore', whose potential presence on a boycott blacklist had to be established by the 'Belfast Trade Boycott Central Committee'.

Outside of the advertising agency, Kevin was involved in numerous professional, Catholic and charitable organisations: he was a founding member of the Publicity Club of Ireland and the Irish Association of Advertising Agencies, and was a leading member of the Catholic Association and general treasurer of the Knights of Saint Columbanus. He was elected president of Dublin Rotary in 1931 and served as the chair of the Children’s Fresh Air Fund during the 1930s.

Kevin was also active in public life: he served as the honorary vice-consul for Chile to Ireland, and later served as honorary vice-consul for Portugal [item C2/1/2/1/3 in the fonds relates to the awarding of the Portuguese rank of Cavaleiro of the Military Order of Christ to Kenny in 1948]. Kevin also ran as an independent for Dublin North in the 1923 general election, but was not elected.

Kevin married Annette Murphy in 1910 and they had five children: Kevin, Kathleen, Colum, Maura and Michael. Kevin died on 14 September 1954 in Glasnevin, Dublin.

Kenny, Colum

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  • Persona
  • 1951-

Columcille Joseph Kenny was born on 7 March 1951 in Dublin to Michael B Kenny and Eileen Kenny (née Morgan). Colum studied law and qualified as a Barrister-at-Law before working at RTÉ from 1977 to 1982 as a current affairs reporter and producer. Colum joined the School of Communications at the National Institute for Higher Education Dublin [now Dublin City University (DCU)] in 1982. He is a former chair of DCU’s Masters in Journalism programme and is currently Professor Emeritus.

Colum was a member of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland/Independent Radio and Television Commission from 1998 to 2003, and was a member of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland from 2010 to 2015. He was a founding board member of the European Union Media Desk in Ireland, and appointed a member of the Irish government's Media Mergers Advisory Group in 2008. He was also elected an honorary bencher of King's Inns in 2017. Colum is a long-standing journalist and author, and a regular columnist with national Irish newspapers.

Haughey, Charles James

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  • Persona
  • 1925-2006

Haughey, Charles James, politician and taoiseach, was born in Castlebar, Mayo, on 16 September 1925.

O'Donoghue, David

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  • Persona
  • 1952-

Dr. David O'Donoghue is an Irish journalist and historian who has written two books on Irish-German relations during the Second World War. David has worked as a journalist for Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) and for Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Paris, France. David was awarded a PhD from Dublin City University in 1995.

Casement, Sir Roger David

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  • Persona
  • 1864-1916

Sir Roger David Casement, humanitarian and Irish nationalist.

Kenny, Michael

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  • Persona
  • 1919-1992

Michael [?Brendan] Kenny was born on 29 September 1919 to Kevin J Kenny and Annette Kenny (née Murphy). He attended school at the Dominican Convent in Wicklow Town, Wicklow; Loreto College, North Great George’s Street, Dublin; Belvedere College, Dublin, and Clongowes Wood College, Clane, Kildare.

He worked at Kenny’s Advertising Agency and became managing-director of the agency when his father Kevin J Kenny died in 1954. Like his father, Michael was a leading figure in the Irish advertising sector and was involved in numerous professional bodies. At various points throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, he was president of the Institute of Advertising Practitioners; president of the Irish Association of Advertisers; president of the Irish Association of Advertising Agencies, and chair of the Publicity Club of Ireland. Like his father, Michael was an active member of the Dublin Rotary (he was elected president of the Rotary Club of Dun Laoghaire in 1973), was a Knight of Saint Columbanus, and served as Portuguese Consul to Ireland for a period.

In 1963, Michael oversaw the move of Kenny’s Advertising Agency from Abbey Street to new premises in Lower Baggot Street, Dublin. His eldest son Stuart succeeded him as managing director of the agency in 1974.

Michael was a keen golfer and cricketer, and was president of Dun Laoghaire Bowling Club at one point. He was a member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association from 1935 until his death.

Michael married Eileen Morgan in 1942 and they had four children: Stuart, Brendan, Colum and May. Michael died on 5 September 1992 in Dalkey, Dublin.

Lester, Seán

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  • Persona
  • 1888-1959

John Ernest Lester was born on 27 September 1888 in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, to Robert John Lester and Henrietta Mary Lester (née Ritchie). The Lesters owned a grocery shop on the Ormeau Road, Belfast, and Seán attended the Methodist College in Belfast until the age of 14 when he began working for the Belfast & County Down Railway in Bangor. Due to being colour-blind, he was forced to leave his railway job and began a career in journalism with the unionist North Down Herald newspaper in 1905, where one of his colleagues was Ernest Blythe. In the next few years he would go on to work for several newspapers including the Dublin Evening Mail, the Dublin Daily Express, and the Galway Connaught Tribune. During this period, he developed an interest in Irish nationalism and politics, Lester joined the Gaelic League, and subsequently the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1908 and Sinn Féin in 1909. It was around this time Lester changed his name to Seán. Lester was with Eóin MacNeill in 1916 when the Rising began and therefore did not take part in the fighting. He began working at the Freeman's Journal that year as chief reporter and then as news editor covering the ensuing significant years which saw the War of Independence, foundation of the Irish Free State, and Civil War.

Lester's friend and previous colleague, Ernest Blythe, who was by now Minister for Finance, suggested that Lester should join the Department of External Affairs, and thus in 1923, Lester took Blythe up on his suggestion and began working as Director of Publicity. He quickly rose up the ranks to the third highest position in the department, and in 1929, was chosen to act as Ireland's Permanent Delegate to the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Despite his reservations about his age (he took up his post at the age of forty), not being able to speak any languages other than English or Irish, or that he had never been abroad before, Lester quickly established himself as a diplomat of note in Geneva and worked towards getting the Irish Free State elected onto the influential League Council, which he achieved in 1930. His distinguished work for the Council and with various League committees in the following years led to his being seconded from the Irish service to the position of High Commissioner of the League of Nations in Danzig [Gdansk, Poland] in 1933.

As High Commissioner, Lester came under increasing pressure over the next few years to maintain the authority of the League of Nations in the region, as the Nazis gradually gained more and more power. Following an increasing policy of intimidation and undermining of Lester’s authority by the Nazis, which included placing guards around his house and questioning those who visited him, Lester was promoted to Deputy Secretary General of the League of Nations in Geneva and left Danzig in December 1936.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Lester struggled to keep the League headquarters in Geneva running as its staff and resources were slashed, various sections were moved to Princeton, USA, and Montreal, Canada, and the pro-Nazi Secretary General, Joseph Avenol, resigned and left for Vichy France in August 1940. Lester then assumed the role of Acting Secretary General of the League, and courageously held out in Geneva with a skeleton staff and limited resources until the end of the war. At the final assembly of the League in April 1946, he was awarded the title of Secretary General, retrospective from 1940. His final task as Secretary General was to formally dissolve the League and dispose of its assets.

Lester returned to Ireland and retired initially to County Wicklow and then to Recess, County Galway, where he indulged his passion for fishing and spent the remainder of his days. He had received the Woodrow Wilson award in 1945 for his courageous service to the League of Nations during the war, and received honorary doctorates from Dublin University and the National University of Ireland in 1947.

Morris, Henry

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  • Persona
  • 1874-1945

Henry Morris was a writer and Irish scholar, born on 14 January 1874 in Lisdoonan, Donaghmoyne, Co. Monaghan, Ireland. Morris was a teacher and school inspector for the Department of Education, collector of 18th and 19th century Irish manuscripts, and involved in the revival of Irish language and antiquarian studies.