23 Maeve Kenny

Born in late the 1800’s Maeve Courtney Kenny (Mable) spent most of her life at Robe Villa later titled Robe House in Ballinrobe. She was married to Stanhope Kenny whose father was the magistrate Courtney Kenny and one of the oldest families in Ballinrobe c (1670). Their only son was the well-known musician Courtney Kenny.

One of the Oldest Families in Ballinrobe

The earliest recorded reference to the root of the Courtney Kenny family was a John D. Courtney, MA 1671, Rector and Vicar of Ballinrobe & Ballinchalla in 1666 to 1671. John Hearne was agent for the Kenny family from 1880 to 1910 for their original 600 acre farm.

Irish Countrywoman’s Association

Maeve was a much respected figure in Ballinrobe. A keen Irish Country-women’s Association (ICA) member her house was always available for guild meetings and other community activities. Her hospitality was unbounded and her encouragement for women of all classes and creeds was much appreciated by the community.

James Arthur O’Connor paintings

The Kenny family commissioned, four paintings by James Arthur O’Connor (1792-1841) in 1818 which hung in Robe Ville until Maeve sold them to the National Gallery of Ireland in 1970.  They were titled: The Mill, Robe Villa, Lough Mask and finally The Pleasure Grounds, which depicted their ladies bower walk along a then wider River Robe; this was narrowed and deepened c1850 to become a canal with its barge tow path, now the Bower’s Riverside Walk.

Percy French, an Uncle

Maeve was a niece of Percy French (1854-1920) the musician who published his many famous songs of Irish life around 1902.

Courtney Kenny her Son

Her son Courtney, had great musical talent and later became director of the Glyndebourne Opera Company and the Director of the Wexford Festival of Grand Opera. He had a considerable operatic repertoire in both Ireland and Britain and was a talented accompanist and chamber music player.  He formed his own opera company and brought it to Ballinrobe on occasions in the 1960s which enthralled large audiences with the rendering of highlights from popular operas.

Ballinrobe Musical Society was blessed to have him accompany the 1983 Oklahoma production, and he produced and accompanied the Ballinrobe shows for many years with great support from his mother Maeve

One of Mayo’s best-known musical sons, Courtney Kenny, was honoured in 2017 at a special ‘Ballinrobe Celebrates’ concert; the event formed a central element of the sixth annual Mayo International Choral Festival.

Maeve Kenny President of the Local Choral Society

Maeve was President of St Mary’s Choral Society in Ballinrobe for many years and did much to encourage the tremendous interest in opera which has existed for such a long time in Ballinrobe.

For further information on the Kenny Family and Robe Villa see:


Information on the ICA Ballinrobe see:


Useful Link:

Mayo County Library: Kenny Papers, including land agreements, estate management and financial records with some family papers, 1730-1939. Collection list, MP03


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