Kennedy, Patrick (1801–73), writer, folklorist, and bookseller, was born in Kilmyshal, near Bunclody, Co. Wexford, in early 1801. Little is known of his family life other than that his father was Patrick Kennedy and that he appears to have been the fourth child born to his parents. After moving with his family to the town of Castlebrough, near New Ross, Co. Wexford, c.1807, he received his education at neighbouring Cloughbawn, at a school founded and funded by the local landlord, Robert Shapland Carew (1752–1829); run by a Mr O'Neill, the school seems to have been well thought of throughout the locality and attracted pupils from both catholic and middle-class protestant families.
Having completed his schooling, Kennedy taught for three years in Tombrick, Co. Wexford, before moving to Dublin in 1821 to receive formal teacher training at the Kildare Place Society training school. His abilities evidently impressed the staff there, who engaged him as a junior assistant. During his evenings off he attended art classes at the RDS; these stood him in good stead as, after the closure of the society's school in 1830, he seems to have supported himself as a drawing master, based in Exchequer Street and later Gloucester Street. After a brief period of employment in 1839 at the commission of education's training school at Glasnevin, Dublin, from where he was dismissed after an argument with a colleague, he established a bookshop and library in Anglesea Street, through which he became well known to many of the contemporary writers in Dublin, among them John Banim (qv), Rosa Mulholland (qv), and R. R. Madden (qv). His friendship with Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (qv) would prove particularly influential. Encouraged by him to write, Kennedy became a frequent contributor of articles and literary reviews to numerous Irish journals, among them Duffy's Irish Fireside, the Wexford Independent, the Irish Review, and the Dublin University Magazine, with which Le Fanu was closely associated.
From 1855 Kennedy published a series of well-received books of Irish folklore and anecdote, which focus primarily on his own recollections of the rural Ireland of his youth. The first, Legends of Mount Leinster, which appeared under his pseudonym ‘Harry Whitney’, was followed by a number of works published under his own name, including Fictions of our forefathers (1859), Legendary fictions of the Irish Celts (1866), The banks of the Boro (1867), and Evenings in the Duffrey (1869), which he dedicated to Carew. While he was much embarrassed by his London publisher's decision to place what he regarded as an anti-Irish illustration from Punch on the cover of his final work, Book of modern Irish anecdotes (1872), to modern readers his own writings are marred by their stage Irish caricatures. An enthusiastic supporter of Father Theobald Mathew's (qv) temperance campaign, he was for many years a committee member of the Hibernian Temperance Association. In October 1832 he married Maria Kelly, with whom he had six children. He died 28 March 1873 at his home, 9 Anglesea Street, Dublin, and was buried at Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin.