The Kenny family of southwestern Carnew parish, and in particular Myles Kenny (who married Dorothea Briscoe Wilkie in Kennystown on July 10, 1829),was the nucleus for a wave of settlers from the Fitzwilliam estate to an area north of Toronto, Ontario: the town of Barrie, and the surrounding farming communities of Vespra, Essa, and Oro.
Myles Kenny and his family arrived there in the early 1830s, along with Peter Murphy (m. Margaret Ann Doyle) from Kilcavan (Murphy had been a British navy veteran who had petitioned for land in Vespra); Michael Kenny (m. Mary Doyle) from Parkmore; Bridget Kenny (m. Patrick Doran) from Kennystown; and Henry Murphy (m. Catherine Kenny) from Umrygar.
Myles was their leader: he could read and write, where the others could not. The first school in Vespra was held in a log house on his property, where an older relative, Margaret Kenny (b. c1783) lived.
Myles was also active in the early political life of the settlement. He was a member of the first municipal council, and he served as its Reeve (mayor) from
1837-1849. (Myles was a Catholic, and it is interesting to see his political prominence in this corner of Protestant-dominated early Ontario.)
During the famine exodus years of 1847-1853, other Kenny relatives, and the families they were connected to by marriage, came to join Myles Kenny in the Barrie area: Martin Kenny (m. Catherine Toole) of Tomacork; Mary Kenny (m. Michael Byrne) of Kilcavan; Catherine Kenny (m. John Kavanagh) of Parkmore; Sarah Connors (widow of John Myers) of Carnew (she became Martin Kenny’s second wife); Margaret Doyle (m. Martin Murphy) of Parkmore; Ann Doyle (m. Patrick Shannon) of Hillbrooke; Margaret Doyle (m. William Byrne) of Coolfancy; John Heffernan (m. Sally Tompkins) of Coolroe; Sarah Heffernan (m. Patrick Moore) of Ballykelly.
About 1856, John Balfe (m. Alice Dobbs) of Hillbrooke, and Patrick Murphy (m. Julia Dobbs) of Parkmore, [iv] (who had earlier settled near Smiths Falls, Ontario) having heard of the good land near Barrie, came to join their former Wicklow neighbors there.
Myles Kenny’s story has a very sad ending, however.In July 1838, nine of his children died in a single day from mushroom poisoning, and it is said that their coffins were constructed and set out on the Kenny farm’s front lawn. There was no Catholic cemetery in Barrie at the time, and the children were likely buried at the farm’s lot line, as was the custom at the time. Today, they are memorialized in a stone next to that of their parents in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Barrie.
Myles Kenny died on January 11, 1874 in Vespra Township, Simcoe County, Ontario.
Despite the terrible tragedy in Myles Kenny’s family, it is most consoling to uncover the web of family relationships in these two Ontario communities—relationships that made the emigres’ arrival in this country a bit less daunting.
For the most part, the lives of the people from southwest Wicklow who moved to Ontario appear to have been successful.Many developed large farms and some became prominent in their communities.
... from “Memorials of the Dead and Carnew baptisms
Miles Kenny*b. abt.1801
Alisa (Ally) (Sally) Blake*b. abt 1810
Anne Kennyb. 1836 d. May 23, 1902 age 66born in Glenshooke
William Kennyb. 1838d. Dec. 26, 1911 age 73born in Glenshooke
James Kennyb. 1840d. Dec 24 1909 age 69.born in Glenshooke
Margaret Kenny b. 1858 d. Feb 24 1929 age 71from Glenashouke
Alica Kenny*b 1842born in Glenshooke
Andrew Kenny*b 1844born in Glenshooke
Laurence Kenny* b. 1846born in Glenshooke
??Kenny*b 1851born in Glenshooke
“Myles Kenny buried in the Barrie cemetery with his second wife and their nine children--the children all died in one day of mushroom poisoning.Myles (born Wexford) came to Vespra Twp. in 1833, and I believe his land was recompense for his service in the British army."