Patrick Kennedy (1801–73) was an Irish folklorist, Dublin bookseller, and collector and preserver of the varied tales of County Wexford. Author of the important Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts (1866), Kennedy is thought of as one of the fathers of the Irish folklore revival and is thus associated with the Celtic literary renaissance.
Much of his early work was originally written for the Dublin University Magazine, though he used the pseudonym of Harry Whitney to publish Legends of Mount Leinster in 1855. Fearing that the tales he had heard as a child were in the process of being lost, he produced not only Legendary Fictions but The Banks of the Boro (1867), The Fireside Stories of Ireland (1870), and The Bardic Stories of Ireland (1871). His Fireside Stories are reminiscent of the Grimms’ Kinder‐ und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) in implications of origin; they suggest the domestic circumstances in which folk tales were told.
Kennedy did not attempt to capture the flavour of the original Irish stories or the tone of their tellers, nor does he cite specific sources or informants. He did, however, offer to the public a wide range of traditional narratives including Märchen, ghost stories, local legends, and Ossianic heroic adventures. Especially interested in the witches and fairies of Ireland, he effectively retells many tales of changelings and fairy abductions. He was praised by Douglas Hyde for not further adulterating Gaelic stories, already impaired by their English idiom, and by William Butler Yeats for preserving Irish lore as a writer rather than a scientist.