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Published material and memorabilia

Newspapers, magazines, postcards, flyers and other published documents mainly relating to Irish nationalism. It is possible that Kevin J Kenny worked as a commercial manager or advertising agent for some of the publications, and/or that his company, Kenny’s Press, published some of them. It is also very likely that Kevin simply collected the material in this series due to its historical significance.

Colum Kenny purchased and added some items to this series, such as item C2/1/3/13.

RTÉ television documentaries and current affairs programmes

Series relates to three RTÉ television documentaries that Colum Kenny worked on as a researcher and producer. One of the sub-series relates to a documentary titled ‘The Tailor and Ansty’, broadcast in October 1978, and includes numerous letters from Seán Ó Faoláin, Eric Cross, and Nancy McCarthy-Allitt.

The other two sub-series relate to a documentary on the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake and a Frontline television programme on the sale of old national schools in the Beara Peninsula respectively. The sub-series on the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake is currently closed for access, while part of the sub-series on the Frontline programme is currently closed.

Media career and general correspondence.

Mainly concerns the production of various radio and television documentaries, but also includes correspondence between Colum and a range of figures and organisations on topics such as revisionism in Irish historiography, the inclusion of Ireland under the designation ‘British Isles’ during SKY News television broadcasts and Channel 4's attitude to Ireland and the reporting of Irish affairs.

Cyril Cusack, Grace Watt and 1 Herbert Terrace, Bray, Wicklow.

Series relates to the history of Colum Kenny’s house, 1 Herbert Terrace, Bray, County Wicklow, and two of its former residents: Cyril Cusack and Grace Watt (née Muggeridge). The series mainly consists of correspondence between Kenny, Cusack and Watt during the early 1990s in which they reminisce about living in the house, and discussion of Cusack and Watt’s personal lives.

Grace and the Muggeridge family, lived in 1 Herbert Terrace from 1918 to 1926. Grace’s father worked [?as a welder] for Barimar Limited, who opened an Irish branch with head offices at 185, Great Brunswick Street, Dublin in 1919. According to Grace, Barimar Limited acquired 1 Herbert Terrace for the family after they relocated from London [see letter from Grace to Colum Kenny dated 5 November 1990; item C2/3/3/1 (5)]. While Grace’s childhood memories of living in Ireland as detailed in the letters are very happy, it seems that the family fortunes were not similarly positive. The family had moved to Ireland during tumultuous times, with the War of Independence and Civil War taking place during the period. Her father’s workshop [?in Dublin] was burnt down at some point and Grace notes in one letter that this 'was probably the beginning of our financial troubles'. Grace says her mother sublet rooms in 1 Herbert Terrace when 'times became difficult' [see letter to Colum Kenny dated 7 March 1993; item C2/3/3/1 (12)]. It was at this point that her path crossed with Cyril Cusack.

Cyril, who would later become a famous actor, and his mother, Alice Violet Cusack (née Cole), lived with the Muggeridge family for two to three years according to Grace [see letter to Colum Kenny dated 12 August 1992; item C2/3/3/1 (10)]. Cyril became friends with the Muggeridge children, particularly George, who is mentioned in several of Cyril and Grace’s letters, and whose photograph at 1 Herbert Terrace is included in the series (see file C2/3/3/6).

Grace and her husband Jack (John) R Watt called to 1 Herbert Terrace during a visit to Ireland in 1988, and Colum Kenny and his family were living in the house at that point. Following this visit, Grace and Colum wrote letters and Christmas cards to one another for the next few years. Grace informed Colum at some point that Cyril Cusack had lived with her family for a time in the house. Colum mentioned this to Cyril when they met at a function in Dublin in 1989 and Cyril subsequently began a correspondence with Grace.

Cyril’s letters to Grace include his memories of growing up in Bray, the various characters and events of their childhoods, and his friendship with George Muggeridge. He also shares details about his present life, the various plays, television documentaries and films he is acting in, and the travel that this involves. He also discusses the realities of growing old and his feeling that he might soon have to retire from acting. He mentions in a number of letters his desire to meet up with Grace again, but this never came to pass.

Grace’s letters to Colum mainly concern her memories of living in 1 Herbert Terrace, her new correspondence with Cyril and the latest news from her and her husband’s life. After Cyril died in October 1993, Grace decided to donate her letters from Cyril to Colum. She notes in a letter dated 27 October 1993 [item C2/3/3/1 (15)]: 'I feel most strongly that you are the only person who understands my affection for Cyril.'

This series includes: Grace’s letters and photographs to Colum Kenny and his wife Catherine; Cyril’s letters to Grace; Cyril’s letters to Colum; a letter from Mary Rose Cunningham (Cyril’s wife) to Grace; a letter from Jack (John) R Watt (Grace’s husband) to Colum; copy correspondence between George Muggeridge and Sir Garfield Barwick about George’s childhood in Bray; newspaper article and research on 1 Herbert Terrace written by Colum, and newspaper cuttings relating to Cyril’s death.

Personal Life

Consists of two sub-series. The first relates to personal mementoes such as newspaper cuttings, cards and photographs relating to various events in Kevin J Kenny’s life. The second sub-series relates to the Battle of Gallipoli and includes British Army transcribed signals from the front. These signals may have been written by John Murphy, Annette Kenny’s (née Murphy) brother and Kevin J Kenny’s brother-in-law.

Professional Life

Series mainly relates to the early part of Kevin J Kenny's career as managing director of Kenny's Advertising Agency, with numerous letters from clients relating to advertisements in various newspapers and publications. Several of these clients were leading figures of nationalist movements of the day, such as Patrick Pearse, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, Arthur Griffith, and James Creed Meredith, and later, representatives of the Second Dáil. The series (and its constituent sub-series) reflect the dramatic changes that were taking place in the Irish political landscape, with various parties from across the political and social spectrum seeking Kenny’s services in his capacity as a commercial manager. Thus, the series includes letters and notices from the aforementioned leading nationalists among others, but also British establishment figures and offices of government, such as the Admiralty, War Office and Press Committee in London.

Original finding aid and newspaper cuttings

Series consists of the original finding aid for the collection created by Colum Kenny, and a file of newspaper cutting printouts collected by Colum Kenny.

The finding aid was included with the collection when Colum Kenny donated it to DCU Library on 23 November 2011. The pages in this finding aid relating to Colum’s work on certain RTÉ television programmes have been removed as they are currently closed for access.

The newspaper cuttings mainly relate to the careers and lives of Kevin J Kenny and Michael B Kenny, and the history of Kenny’s Advertising Agency.