Thomas C. Kenny, a native of Tralee, Co. Kerry, and 54-year resident of Riverdale in the Bronx, passed away on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, at the age of 85. He was the beloved husband of Joan (nee O’Sullivan) and loving father of Helen (Patrick) Burrows, Maureen Haggerty and Kevin (Sharon) Kenny. Tom was the cherished “Pop Pop” of Sinead, Devon, Rory, John, Helena, Christina and Nora. He is also survived by his sisters, Mary Casey and Joan (Leo) Leavy, his sisters-in-law, Deirdre Kenny and Beatrice (Joe) Darcy, and brothers-in-law, Jack (Mary) O’Sullivan and Michael (Kathleen) O’Sullivan. His many cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors also mourn his loss.
Tom was the sixth of eight children born to Hannah and John Kenny. His brothers, Patrick, Frank, John, Michael and William predeceased him. Tom attended the Edwards Street Boy’s School and was a member of the Christian Brothers’ Choir. He was a talented singer who continued to entertain family and friends throughout his life. Tom was an avid Gaelic sports fan, and played on the Austin Stack’s hurling team prior to immigrating to London in 1951.
He worked in the Shakespeare Hotel in London. It was there that he met the love of his life and future wife, Joan O’Sullivan, a native of Kenmare, Co. Kerry. Their London courtship was curtailed when Tom was called to serve in the British Army - an invitation he chose to decline on the advice of his father! Given this decision, Tom left London in 1955. He landed in New York on July 4th amid much fanfare and fireworks celebrating Independence Day. He often joked that he thought the celebrations were in honor of his arrival! Tom offered no resistance when drafted in the United States Army, and after basic training, proudly served his adoptive country for eighteen months in Schweinfurt, Germany.
Tom and Joan were married at St. Theresa’s Church in Brooklyn on April 23, 1960. They raised their three children in Riverdale. Tom was very involved in the local community. He was a parishioner of St. Margaret’s of Cortona Church, and a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Riverdale Irish Society. Tom was a friend to many - both young and old. His neighbors, past and present, loved him. He was quick to lend a helping hand or offer a warm welcome.
Tom owned and operated several bars and restaurants in New York starting as a partner with his brother, Frank, at Kenny’s Manor House in Parkchester. He was also the proprietor of the Glocca Morra, one of the first authentic Irish pubs in Manhattan. Tom imported various items from Ireland including a crane for the open fireplace and real turf to enhance the Glocca Morra’s Irish themed décor. He opened Brendan’s in Riverdale in the late 1980s. This Irish themed pub was frequented by both Riverdale residents and recent Irish immigrants. During his tenure in the bar business, Tom was an active member of the Bronx Liquor Dealers Association.
Tom retired in 1991 allowing him to enjoy more time in his vacation home in Kenmare. For over fifteen years, Tom spent the summer months in Ireland, cultivating his garden and hosting family and friends. While at home in New York, Tom’s retirement involved countless hours volunteering at the Kerrymen’s Patriotic and Benevolent Association. He was actively involved in readying the Association’s building for occupancy. He was also instrumental in establishing the “Claddanure Pub” for the organization, and in its day-to-day operation. In 2006, the Association recognized Tom’s efforts on their behalf by selecting him as the Guest of Honor at their annual Kerry Ball.
While Tom was a successful businessman, he was most proud of his family. He considered his children and grandchildren to be his greatest legacy. By example, he instilled in them essential values for daily living and a great appreciation of their Irish heritage. His quick wit, welcoming smile and beautiful singing voice will be missed by all who knew and loved him.
The wake will be held on Saturday, December 1, from 4 to 6 pm, and Sunday, December 2, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 pm, at Riverdale-on-Hudson Funeral Home, 6110 Riverdale Avenue, Bronx NY. The Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled for Monday, December 3, at 9:45 am at St. Margaret of Cortona Church, 6000 Riverdale Avenue, Bronx NY. Burial will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the American Cancer Society.