On April 24, 1916, the uprising took place. Sir Roger Casement was captured by the British as he attempted to bring the German guns into Ireland. He was hanged in London on August 3, 1916.
Realizing something had gone wrong, MacNeill and the O'Rahilly had spent the two days before the planned uprising traversing the country, informing the volunteers that the uprising was off. In Dublin, Clarke and MacDermott decided to go ahead with the uprising as planned. The insurgents, only about 2,000 strong, comprised of men, old men, young boys, and even women, in some cases equipped with no more than bayonets, held out against the British Empire for five days. Faced with the prospect of reducing Dublin to rubble, the insurgents, realizing they had made their point, surrendered.
Clarke, Pearse, MacDonagh, Plunkett, and Connolly, roundly vilified by the Irish people whose freedom they had sought, were arrested and summarily executed. Countess Markievitz, who had fought alongside the men, was imprisoned.
The brutal executions caused public opinion, initially against the rebels, to swing around to back them fully, proclaiming them martyrs and heroes. Kenny wrote,
"They were the stuff of which is made the heroes and martyrs whose statues adorn our public squares and whose names are canonized in our churches. Yet they were condemned as little less than criminals by some who now profess that their greatest desire is to emulate them. They were derided as visionaries, yet Ireland is well on the way towards which they would have led."
John Kenny years later in a speech to commemorate Tom Clarke's death, said, "Within two years Dublin had risen, Ireland was aflame and continued virtually in armed rebellion until De Valera hung out the white flag".
John Kenny remained in New York City. In 1915 he became the Business Manager of the Gaelic American, until around 1921 when he had a serious falling out with John Devoy. He continued to remain active in political affairs, and to publish his work in the Gaelic American.
Estranged from his wife and family, he was attempting unsuccessfully to get into a nursing home when he came down with pneumonia and died at age 77 on December 27, 1924, in St. Vincent's Hospital. His passing was mourned by the many Irish organizations in the city, and a special Mass was said in his honor for all the Irish societies, sponsored by the Cummann na mBan who wrote:
"The organization feels that in the death of John Kenny they have lost one of their most valued friends, and one of the sincerest, noblest, and most intelligent friends of Ireland who was ever ready to assist wholeheartedly and unselfishly;...a soul that never valued the material things of this world."
Cumann na mBan
Feb. 21, 1925, p.7
November 12, 1996