Kenny, Paul (c.1665–1737), catholic priest, was born in Co. Galway, son of an unknown father and Anna Kenny (née Costello). Kenny was a novice with the Discalced Carmelites of Loughrea, Co. Galway, and, on making his religious profession there (1690), assumed the religious name ‘Paul of the Cross’. During the Williamite wars, climaxing in nearby Aughrim, Kenny appears to have left the country and completed his studies near Paris, where he was ordained (c.1695). He appears again in Oude Tonge, on the island of Overflakkee, Holland. While he may have gone there to avoid the Irish penal laws, many of Kenny's Dutch associates were prominent Jansenists who had been excommunicated by Rome. Through circulation of Cornelius Jansen's Augustinus (published posthumously, 1640) and Pasquieu Quesnel's Réflexions morales sur le Nouveau Testament (1671), a secret network of sympathisers developed across Europe. Their centre had shifted to Utrecht after the destruction of the convent of Port-Royal in France.
Kenny was sympathetic to Jansenism. Back in Ireland, he spent several uneventful years. He was credited as having built a church for his order in Wormwood Gate, Dublin (c.1710). He reappears, however, in Holland again in 1713. More remarkably, however, he played a critical role in convincing Luke Fagan (qv), bishop of Meath, to ordain twelve Dutch Jansenists in a series of four ordinations (May 1715–September 1716). Among these were both a future schismatical bishop, Jerome de Bok of Haarlem, and an archbishop, Peter John Meindaerts of Utrecht, then centre of Jansenist influence. Fagan was, with good reason, deeply anxious about being discovered, as his actions could have led to excommunication. No bishop had, in fact, dared attempt an ordination for fifteen years. Suspecting they had occurred in Ireland, Rome launched an investigation, but neither Fagan nor Kenny was ever revealed. Little more is known of Kenny. He was subsequently prior of the Carmelite community in Dublin (1728–31) and vicar provincial (1733–7) before his death in the city in 1737.