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Father M. B. Kennedy, Resolute Priest and Nationalist, Passes Away |

Father M. B. Kennedy, Resolute Priest and Nationalist, Passes Away

In a sombre announcement that reverberated through the hearts of Irishmen and women worldwide, the passing of Father M. B. Kennedy, C.C., Fermoy, marked the end of an era for a priest. His name became synonymous with resilience and dedication during the tumultuous times of the Land League and the Plan of Campaign. Father Kennedy, who battled an internal ailment for several months, breathed his last on Friday morning at a private hospital in the city.

Father Kennedy’s journey in the priesthood commenced in Liverpool, and he later officiated in Youghal, Co. Cork. His initial curacy was at Meelin, a mountainous parish on the borders of Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, forever entwined with his legacy. It was a period when political tensions ran high, jails overflowed with Nationalists, and evictions swept the land. Against this backdrop, Father Kennedy, alongside tenants of the Leader estate near Meelin, raised the standard of “No Rent” under the Plan of Campaign.

The ensuing agrarian war was characterized by determination and sacrifice, with Father Kennedy at the helm. The Meelin Cavalry, a mounted corps bedecked in green, became famous for their role in the region, attending and securing principal meetings in North Cork. Not alone in this fight, Father Kennedy found support from notable figures like William O’Brien, Dr Charles Tanner, David Sheehy, and J. C. Flynn.

In 1889, the authorities, keen on apprehending Father Kennedy, succeeded in trying him for presiding over a “suppressed” meeting of the League. He faced a two-month imprisonment. The scenes in Newmarket on the day of the prosecution were memorable, with soldiers and police guarding the courthouse against a restless crowd. Father Kennedy’s release in December marked a triumph for the Nationalist cause.

His involvement didn’t wane, and in 1890, he faced another three-month imprisonment sentence. The struggle of those days has passed into history, but the Meelin tenants’ sacrifices were not in vain, as they eventually became owners of their farms through subsequent legislation.

While the remainder of Father Kennedy’s life unfolded in less eventful surroundings, his commitment to the Nationalist movement persisted. Transferring from Meelin to Blarney, he influenced the first battles of the polls during the County Council elections. Father Kennedy’s tenure in Donoughmore saw the establishment of a highly successful People’s Library.

The later years brought challenges with the controversies following the Land Act of 1903 and the resignation of William O’Brien from the Irish Party. Father Kennedy, representing North-East Cork in the National Directory of the United Irish League, found himself in opposition to his long-time friend O’Brien. The severance was not without heartache, but Father Kennedy remained an active participant in the political landscape.

His poignant words, spoken before the recent coal trouble escalated, reflected his concern for Ireland’s future. “God help poor Ireland!” he exclaimed, emphasizing the risks and challenges facing the nation. His passion for his country exceeded personal considerations, and he fervently wished for the realization of Home Rule.

In a message of condolence, Mr Redmond conveyed the deep grief felt by the Irish Party over Father Kennedy’s passing. “In the name of the Irish Party, I tender our deepest sympathy for the death of Father Kennedy, one of the Old Guard,” expressed Mr Redmond.

With the demise of Father M. B. Kennedy, Ireland mourns the loss of a devoted priest, a staunch Irishman, and an unwavering champion of the Nationalist cause. His legacy, etched in the annals of Irish history, serves as a testament to a life dedicated to principles, sacrifices, and the relentless pursuit of justice.

Weekly Freeman’s Journal – Saturday 16 March 1912

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My Grandfather’s cousin.. Thank you for this.. Is this a correct picture of him?