After a ten-day trip through the occupied parts of France and Belgium, Kenny arrived at Rotterdam. The steamship for New York had just sailed, sealing his decision to return home to New York via Dublin and Queenstown, after all. He mailed the following letter to his sister in Dublin:
September 12, 1914
My dear Margaret:
No doubt you will be surprised to learn that I am on my way from the Alps. My health is much improved but conditions on the Continent are not healthy enough to induce me to remain longer. Besides funds are running low so have your purse-strings open, when and if, I reach the Tolka.
Your affectionate brother,
In his typically understated way, he hinted at the hardships of his previous ten days in the following letter he sent to John Devoy (using the same fictitious address as before):
September 12, 1914
My dear Friend:
Wrote you from Naples and Rome and forwarded orders from those and other points.
Saw representatives of big house who became greatly interested in the goods and will try to do business. Tried to see the head of establishment, but have not. This about summarizes contents of previous letters which may not have reached you.
Visited Cologne Gazette and Frankfurter Zeitung. Germans seem confident. Rumor of a new arm - a great long range gun designed to command the Channel at Calais and probably reach the English coast. Popular belief that a new frontier will lie west of the Vosges Mountains reaching diagonally to Channel.
Did fairly well coming through, trains scarce, walking (occasionally) good, but I'm not so old and carry but little baggage and no adipose. I have slept at the foot of a gum tree in Australia years ago. The foraging is very good and that counts."
Wishing to preserve the Imperial Pass as a souvenir and historical document, Kenny successfully smuggled it through English customs. Crossing the North Sea from Vlissingen to Folkestone, England, he was surprised to find little evidence of war in the Channel - no airships, battle cruisers or destroyers. No doubt submarines, nets and submerged mines abounded. At Folkestone all passengers were subjected to minute examination.
Kenny wrote, "London was dark at night. So were trains. People looked serious."
At Holyhead, Wales and Dunleary, Ireland, American passengers were detained for a short while for examination.
Kenny had not planned on returning through Ireland so he had received no instructions from Devoy on informing Tom Clarke of the mission. However, Kenny knew well that Tom was considered the hub of the secret movement in Ireland, and that Devoy would expect Kenny to inform him of the mission. He met several times with Tom Clarke, Sean MacDermott, and Patrick Pearse.
Although Kenny was not bothered by G man, Clarke assured him that he was being followed, ever since meeting with Clarke and his friends. At one of the last conversations John Kenny had with Clarke and MacDermott, Clarke told him, "Our people have the Irish Volunteer Committee well in hand and will at once take drastic action with the Parliamentary men on it. They will also raise a strong protest at the Asquith-Redmond meeting to be held in Dublin on Friday." Clarke explained that the people who had believed that Redmond at the last moment would take a strong stand - and that was the great majority of the people - were "struck all of a heap." John Kenny ventured a suggestion (something he says he rarely did while there) that now was the time to give people the opportunity to take sides definitely - "Ireland or the Empire - which? Redmond and recruiting for England or reserving their man power for Ireland?" As John Kenny was about to visit Pearse at St. Enda's to say goodbye, Clarke asked him to give Pearse the gist of his conversation and ascertain Pearse's views about issuing a manifesto. Kenny did so and returned to Clarke's shop to let him know that Pearse was in complete accord. Kenny believed that Clarke was to reach Eoin MacNeill, James Connolly and another leader that night.
The next day, Kenny met for the last time before he left, with Clarke and MacDermott, at the Wynnes Hotel. Kenny forgot if they had heard yet from MacNeill and Connolly, but they had decided to carry out in its entirety the program outlined the day before, namely, the expulsion of the Redmondites, the protest at the Asquith meeting, and the issuance of the manifesto. Note: I'm not sure if this happened on the first or the second trip
Next: Return to New York