Kenny, Thomas Joseph Warren (1884–1940), journalist, was born 21 August 1884 at 23 Mary Street, Cork city, only child of John Kenny, a member of the RIC, and Margaret Kenny (née Warren). During his childhood the family moved to Ardagh, Co. Longford (although Kenny would always be known as 'Tom Cork' on account of his birthplace). Kenny was educated in Cork, Dublin and Manchester, where he took evening classes in law, logic and philosophy at Manchester School of Education and won its society of arts 'first'. He began his journalistic career in Manchester, serving an apprenticeship with the newspaper syndicate of Edward (later Baronet) Hulton. While in Manchester he became a devotee of C. P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian, who, amongst other things, preached that militancy was inimical to the success of political campaigns. Although a home ruler, Kenny became chief reporter with the unionist Kilkenny Moderator before returning to Britain to edit the Mexborough and Swinton Times and, subsequently, act as a freelance correspondent based at Sheerness. It was from there that he came to Galway in 1907 and became fully established.
Kenny started out as a reporter and leader writer for the Connacht Champion – a newspaper that supported the faction of the home rule party led by William O'Brien (qv) – before in 1909 he was approached by businessman A. F. O'Reilly to edit (and later manage) a new title to be called the Connacht Tribune. It would support the leadership of the home rule party. Part of Kenny's motivation in going over to the new paper stemmed from his realisation that the Connacht Champion would soon be defunct. Indeed, when the first edition of the Connacht Tribune was published at the former Poor Clare convent on Market Street on 22 May 1909 the town of Galway already had four weekly newspapers. Under Kenny's guidance, however, the Connacht Tribune soon began to succeed and in 1911 was incorporated as a limited company, with the home rule MP William O'Malley (qv) as chairman. Kenny's editorial line also supported the preservation of the Irish language and the development of agriculture and industry. During the first world war, Kenny acted as a war correspondent for the Royal Flying Corps at Saint-Omer and the Belgian army at De Panne. He wrote a series of articles that appeared in the London Daily News. Also during the war he supported the suppression of advanced, anti-war nationalism in Galway. This was not because he saw the home rule party's agenda as sacrosanct but, like C. P. Scott, he believed that militancy would undermine Ireland's campaign for autonomy. When the campaign for home rule was overtaken by radical nationalism after 1916, Kenny became dismayed. He wanted home rule because he believed that it would foster economic development and saw the fight for independence as retarding yet further prospects for the Irish economy. Kenny would increasingly become a critic of the crown forces' activities, though, and his personal safety would be threatened by elements within those forces.
In 1919 Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Brown completed the first non-stop transatlantic flight when they crash-landed near Clifden. Their endeavour had been sponsored by the Daily Mail, which was supposed to have gotten the exclusive interview with them on their arrival. Instead, it was Kenny who interviewed Alcock first. Using the nearby Marconi radio station, he transmitted his by-line on the story the world over, to applause from the Press Association. Communications were a great deal poorer in November 1920 when, as a result of delays caused by railway workers refusing to operate trains carrying armed troops, daily newspapers did not reach Galway until after 6 p.m. Responding, Kenny produced a daily tabloid version of the Connacht Tribune. In 1921, on the night of the famous Dempsey–Carpentier world heavyweight title fight, he also produced a special edition of the Connacht Tribune, this time in order to steal a march on the morning papers.
When substantive Irish independence was actually achieved, Kenny was delighted with the measure of autonomy. During the civil war, therefore, the Connacht Tribune was even more hostile towards radical nationalists than it had been previously. Kenny believed that they were jeopardising the potential for economic development that independence represented. His preoccupation with the need for stability meant that he aligned the Connacht Tribune first with the provisional government and then Cumann na nGaedheal. Owing to this, he became an IRA target, and an assassin was reputedly despatched to kill him, but on the day that he arrived Kenny was out of town.
Before the civil war had ended the Connacht Tribune's censure of radical nationalism was replaced by an exposition of what independence could mean for economic development, for Ireland and especially for Galway. The economic development of Galway became the Connacht Tribune's main theme for the rest of Kenny's editorship. In 1923 he co-founded the Galway Chamber of Commerce and was its first chairman, and would lend the Connacht Tribune to promoting its activities. Kenny set his sights on the chamber taking over Galway Urban Council, and in the 1925 local elections it fielded eighteen candidates for the council's twenty-four seats, winning fifteen. In 1925, too, Kenny stepped away from Cumann na nGaedheal, his editorials stating that the party was not using political independence to develop Ireland. He remained fiscally conservative, however, and regarded the protectionism of Fianna Fáil as even more deplorable. Kenny foresaw that tourism was going to become the world's biggest industry and that Galway was well positioned to profit. In 1924 the Connacht Tribune had produced a special tourism supplement and Kenny had sent it to the government to disseminate, as well as to Irish clubs throughout Britain. In 1924 he had also established the West of Ireland Tourist Development Association. Kenny was a Galway harbour commissioner and believed that the development of Galway docks would facilitate Galway's development both as an industrial and tourism centre; in 1926 he persuaded the North German Lloyd liner company to include Galway on its transatlantic itinerary. The Cunard and White Star liner companies would soon follow. However, the expansion of the docks eluded him and his efforts to develop a commercial airport in Galway were also unavailing. In 1930 Kenny became president of the Irish Tourist Association, which he had co-founded in 1924. Under him it opened a New York bureau in 1931, and in 1932 he produced a seminal piece of promotional literature for it, Guide to Connacht.
The preservation of the Irish language was also something that Kenny recognised could contribute to the economic development of Galway in the new state because of the premium put on the language and Galway's status as a Gaeltacht county. From 1923 the Connacht Tribune cast Galway as the capital of Irish-speaking Ireland, and Irish featured more prominently than in any other English-language newspaper in Ireland. In 1925 Kenny started a weekly sister paper to the Connacht Tribune, the Connacht Sentinel, and it became a vehicle for the original stories of Pádraic Ó Conaire (qv). In addition, Kenny promoted the Taibhdhearc theatre in Galway as the national theatre for the Irish language and UCG as the national university for the Irish language.
Kenny died suddenly on 9 May 1940 at his residence, 5 The Crescent, Galway. As well as editing the Connacht Tribune for thirty-one years, he formed the Provincial Newspapers Association of Ireland in 1917, co-founded the Standard (later Catholic Standard) in 1928, and was president of the Irish Master Printers' Association (1919–24). He married (1908) Katherine, daughter of John Hunt, a retired RIC sergeant in Kilkenny; they had two sons and four daughters. After her death, he married secondly (1925) Julia, daughter of Edward McGuinness, a retired RIC constable and insurance agent from Malahide, Co. Dublin; they had one son. Kenny's daughter Peggy married the writer Walter Macken (qv).