Kenny, Henry Francis (1913–75), Gaelic footballer and politician, was born 7 September 1913 in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, youngest child among three sons and one daughter of Anthony Kenny, publican, and Bridget Kenny (née McHale) of Rush St., Castlebar. He was educated at St Patrick's national school and St Gerald's College, Castlebar, before training as a national school teacher at the De La Salle Training College, Co Waterford. His first teaching job was at Recess national school, Co. Galway (1936–41), followed by Leatra national school, Co. Galway. In 1948 he was appointed principal of Leitir national school, Co. Mayo. A keen footballer from an early age, he won a Connacht minor football title with Mayo in 1931 and made his senior debut for the county two years later. He went on to become a fixture – either in the half-back line or midfield – on the Mayo sides that won an unprecedented six consecutive National League titles (1934–9). He claimed his single All Ireland medal in 1936, putting in a dominant performance in midfield when Mayo triumphed in the competition for the first time, beating Laois by 4–11 to 0–5. He also won four Connacht championships with Mayo (1935–7, 1939), and was a member of the Connacht team that took three Railway Cup titles in a row (1936–8). Although renowned for his strength and excellent fielding of the high ball, he was also a creative attacking player, scoring regularly from both midfield and the half-back line. A leader on the field, he captained Mayo to a seventh national league title in 1941. He remained actively involved in the GAA after his retirement as a player and was Mayo representative on the Connacht GAA board for many years.
He displayed little interest in politics before 1953, when his popularity in Castlebar led Fine Gael to approach him as a prospective candidate for Mayo South. He stood for the party in the 1954 general election and won a seat at his first attempt. He was elected to Mayo county council the following year. Although he remained on the Fine Gael back benches for most of his political career, he was a very effective local politician and gained re-election from Mayo South (1957, 1961, 1965) and from the new constituency of Mayo West (1969, 1973). His poll-topping performance in the 1969 election saw him promoted to the Fine Gael front bench, where he was spokesman for the Office of Public Works. In March 1973 he was appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister for finance, with responsibility for the office of public works, a position he held until his death in 1975. His time at the OPW was characterised by an increased emphasis on conservation projects, particularly of archaeological sites. After a short illness he died 25 September 1975.
He married (16 July 1942) Eithne McGinley; they lived at Derrycoosh, Castlebar, and had four sons and one daughter. His son Enda Kenny (b. 1951), who won the by-election resulting from Kenny's death, was minister for tourism and trade (1994–7), and in June 2002 became leader of Fine Gael.