|Born||5 August 1828|
|Died||7 October 1913|
|Educated||Harrow School Dublin University|
|Occupation||HM Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum for Co Kildare|
|Debut||20 May 1861 v The All England XI at Coburg Gardens,|
|Teams||Dublin University; Vice Regal|
|History||Robert Kennedy was a member of a well known Anglo-Irish landed family with large estates in Co Waterford and Co Kildare. His nephew, Sir John Kennedy was well known in Co Kildare and Na Shuler Cricket, and his great nephew Sir Derrick appeared for Dublin University and Ireland in 1924, later playing in India against Douglas Jardine's 1933/34 MCC side. |
It has sometimes been assumed, by this writer among others, that Robert's son Frederick William Kennedy was the Irish cricketer FW Kennedy, who toured North America with Nathaniel Hone's Irish side 1879. However it is now apparent that this is a misidentification. Robert's son, who became a distinguished naval officer reaching the rank of Admiral, was educated at Harrow and did not attend University. FW, the cricketer, was at the Abbey School Tipperary, before entering Dublin University. The naval officer was on active service at the time of the American tour.
Robert is stated by Dublin University records to have been at Harrow. The School has no record of him, but as its records of this time are incomplete, it may be assumed that he was there. He did not, however, play in the annual match v Eton.
He entered the University in 1857, gaining his colours in 1858, 1860 and 1861. The fixture list was some what sparse and no averages were kept. Robert did not play in the match against the All England XI in 1861. His contemporaries in the University side included the two future waring academics, and Irish cricketers, JP Mahaffy and A Traill. Both were destined to become Provost of Trinity College (Vice Chancellor of the University), the former always bitter that the latter was the first to hold the exalted post.
Robert made his debut for Ireland v The All England XI at Coburg Gardens, Dublin. The square is now submerged by the National Concert Hall but parts of the outfield now form Iveagh Gardens. His figures for this match will not be found in his statistics which accompany this article as Ireland played twenty two. The score and a report may be found by following the links on the Statszone page. The match ended in an easy win for the visitors despite fine bowling by Charles Lawrence, who took 7-42 in 47 overs, the four ball over being in use. Batting at 19, Robert failed twice, but had the consolation of being dismissed by two of the finest cricketers of the day. In the first innings he was bowled by Edgar Willsher, fast left arm round arm, seen at the time as the best bowler in England for 0, and in the second he was caught by legendary fast bowler John "Foghorn " Jackson off the bowling of George Parr for 6 . Jackson was to die, destitute, in a Liverpool workhouse in 1901, while Parr, captain of All England and Nottinghamshire. a man of private means though a professional cricketer, had already taken a side to North America and was shortly to take one to Australia, He was a magnificent middle order batsman, and a very good slow underarmer.
In early autumn, to be precise on 7 and 8 October, the latest dates on which a home Irish fixture has ever been played, Ireland took on the Military of Ireland, again at Coburg. The weather was glorious, but, despite the presence of the Lord Lieutenant and some of the I Zingari side, whose annual tour had just concluded, the crowds were small. They did not really miss much, apart from some great bowling by Lawrence, in his last match for Ireland. Despite scoring only 166, Ireland won by an innings. Robert, batting at no 9, made 9, his highest recorded score in representative matches, and did not bowl.
The following summer, he played for the Vice Regal side in their annual match v IZ. The visitors played twelve, the hosts, with Robert at 15, batted sixteen. The Zingaros had little difficulty in winning, thanks to the devastating fast under arm bowling of Henry Awkright. Robert, 7*, escaped his clutches in the first innings, but was disposed of for 4 in the second, caught by opening bat Edward Tredcroft.
Robert was not seen in major cricket again.
Edward Liddle, October 2008
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