ON THIS DATE (2ND OCTOBER) 12 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF A 105-YEAR-OLD IRISH REBEL.
Dan Keating (pictured) was born in 1902 and died on the 2nd October, 2007 – 12 years ago on this date. He worked within the Republican Movement for 89 years, having first offered his services at just 16 years of age.
‘Dan Keating was born on the 2nd January in 1902 in the townland of Ballygamboon, Castlemaine, Co Kerry. In 1917, Dan went to work in Tralee at Jerry McSweeney’s Grocery, Bar and Bakery. Jerry McSweeney’s uncle, Richard Laide, was shot in the attack on Gortalea barracks which was the first barracks to be attacked in Ireland. Dan joined the Fianna in Tralee in 1918 and about two years later he joined the Irish Republican Army. Others to join at that time were Gerry Moyles, Donnchadh Donoghue, Tommy Vale, John Riordan (Kerry All-Ireland footballer), Jerry O’Connor (better known as “Uncy”), Matt Moroney and Paddy and Billy Griffin.
He met a soldier who used to frequent the bar where he worked and during conversations procured a rifle from him. This was then handed over to Johnny O’Connor of the Farmers’ Bridge unit. Dan was later to join this unit which included men of the calibre of Johnny Duggan, Johnny O’Connor, Timmy Galvin, Moss Galvin, Jack Corkery, Jim Ryle, Mick Hogan and Jamesy Whiston. This unit was very active from 1920 to 1924 and many of its members took part in the Headford ambush which claimed the lives of approximately 20 British soldiers. Volunteers Danny Allman and Jimmy Baily also lost their lives at Headford. He took part in the ambush at Castlemaine in which eight RIC and Black-and-Tans were killed. Gerry Moyles was severely injured in this encounter. The last ambush in Kerry took place in Castleisland on the night before the Truce and Dan also participated in this. Four RIC members were killed in this action and Volunteers Jack Shanahan, Jack Prenderville, John McMahon and John Flynn also lost their lives.
In 1922 Dan was transferred to a unit in Tralee which was commanded by Tommy Barton of Ballyroe when they occupied Ballymullen barracks for a period of three months. Dan took part in the attack on Listowel barracks, now occupied by the Free Staters, in which one Free Stater was shot dead. In Limerick, Dan, along with comrades from Kerry, fought the Free State troops over a period of ten days. Republican Volunteers Patrick Foran, Charlie O’Hanlon and Tom McLoughlin lost their lives there. Dan was then sent to Tipperary to instruct Gerry Moyles to return to Kilmallock but on the way they were surrounded by Free Staters. After a battle at Two Mile Bridge Dan and his comrades were taken prisoner and held in Thurles barracks for two days before being conveyed to Portlaoise jail where he was held for six months. This was to be the first of many times Dan was interned by the Free State. During this period in Portlaoise, the jail was burned and Volunteer Paddy Hickey from Dublin was shot dead. Dan was then transferred to the Curragh Internment Camp and was held there until March 1923. A Free State soldier named Bergin from Nenagh, who became friendly with the republican prisoners and acted as a courier to republicans on the outside, was executed by the Staters.
Dan was charged with possession of a shotgun in 1930 and was issued a summons but did not attend court and was fined £1. In the true republican tradition he refused to pay and was sent to Limerick and held for one week. During a court case in Tralee involving Johnny O’Connor and Mick Kennedy, in which they refused to recognise the court, their supporters in the courthouse cheered loudly and when things died down the judge ordered Dan Keating to be brought up before him and gave him three months for contempt. Dan was jailed in Cork with Johnny O’Connor but after a hunger strike by Johnny both were released after three weeks.
The next time Dan was interned was after O’Duffy’s visit to Tralee ; he was sentenced to six months in Arbour Hill. Dan was later captured in Carrigans in Clonmel by a policeman who had previously arrested him in Tralee and was taken first to Thurles and from there to the Curragh where he was held for three years and six months. In this period the camp was burned and Barney Casey from Longford was shot dead.
Dan was also on active service in England during the early 1940’s and returned to work in Dublin and operated as a barman in the Eagle House, James Street, the Cornet and the Kilmardenny public houses. His other great interest was Gaelic games, and indeed between football and hurling he has attended more than 140 All-Ireland senior finals including replays, which must be a record in itself. When Dan retired he returned to Kerry in 1978 and resided at Ballygamboon, Castlemaine. In 2004, Dan Keating replaced George Harrison of Mayo and New York as the fourth Patron of Sinn Féin Poblachtach since 1986, following in the footsteps of such illustrious republicans as Comdt-General Tom Maguire and Michael Flannery of Tipperary and New York. During his long, healthy and adventurous lifetime Dan has seen many splits and deviations from republican principles, but he remained loyal and true to the end.’ (From here.)
Dan Keating died in Tralee on the 2nd October, 2007, after a short illness. His remains were removed on Thursday, 4th October, 2007, at 7.30pm, from Tralee Nursing Home to Kiltalla Church, four miles past Castlemaine, and his funeral was held on Friday, 5th October. The authors of this blog have met Dan on many an occasion at various republican functions over the years : we have had the honour and the pleasure to sit-in on and partake in some of the many conversations with the man. His wit and historical wisdom and knowledge will be sorely missed, but his comrades will ensure that those attributes are passed-on as best we can to future generations and that men and women of his calibre will be remembered.
ISSUED BY THE ARMY COUNCIL, ÓGLAIGH NA hÉIREANN, NOVEMBER 1954…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, December 1954.
“So, to, was the resurgent period of 1916 to 1922 followed by the long bitter years when the people once more placed their trust in the professional politicians who promised and promised but without performance. In the years since 1922, the apparent differences between the political parties in the 26-County State have become less and less until we have eventually reached the state of almost complete unanimity on that greatest of national evils – the continued occupation of part of our country by a British Army.
In Leinster House and at their party conventions they have stated their views. They will do nothing to end it and they can do no more than express the hope that at some unspecified time in the future the Orangemen will ask for a united Ireland. But there are men in the occupied territory who are not satisfied with the policy of laissez faire. There are men under the heel of British tyranny who are not satisfied to wait twenty or thirty or forty years for that most unlikely change of heart on which the professional politicians base their hopes for a united Ireland.
These young men and their comrades throughout Ireland who are pledged with them to wrest freedom from the enemy by force of arms raise once more the standard of revolt against oppression and they call on the people of all Ireland for support. The people of Ireland stand once more at the historical crossroads ; once more for them the hour of decision is at hand. Once more they are asked to decide whether they will give support to those whose only policy is one of mealy-mouthed appeasement and placation or to the men who are pledged to the doctrine of Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet and Padraig Pearse…” (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (2ND OCTOBER) 167 YEARS AGO : IRISH LAND LEAGUE FOUNDER BORN.
William O’Brien (pictured) was an Irish nationalist, journalist, agrarian agitator, social revolutionary, politician, party leader, newspaper publisher, author and Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’. He was born on the 2nd October, 1852 – 167 years ago on this date.
‘William O’Brien received the freedom of Dublin in 1888, and not only the freedom of Dublin, but of Cork, as well, at the age of 36, on the occasion of his release from prison.
While still little more than a boy he had helped in smuggling in the Fenian guns for the purchase of which Michael Davitt had gone to prison. This was rather surprising in one who had been reared an ardent admirer of O’Connell but the pitiable inadequacy of the Fenian effort caused William to base all his efforts on Conference, Conciliation, Consent, using just one weapon – violent language. He started to earn his living as a journalist in Cork but very soon his obvious talent caused him promotion to the Freemans Journal in Dublin. A series of articles, ‘Christmas on the Galtees’, brought the plight of Irish tenant farmers very vividly before the public and established William O’Brien as the unflinching champion of the tenants, which he remained to the end. He soon resigned his £600 a year job on the Freemans Journal to become editor of ‘United Ireland’ at £400 a year on the invitation of Charles S. Parnell. He quickly became ‘the Chiefs’ confidante and at the split, he was the only member of the Party to whom Parnell was willing to hand over the leadership, which O’Brien declined.
All through the 1880’s O’Brien and John Dillon, the two “stormy petrels” of the Land League, both with weak, tubercular lungs fought the Plan of Campaign, being frequently arrested and sentenced to terms of imprisonment with hard labour. But O’Brien had a feeling for propaganda which enabled him to turn such sentences into occasions for the utmost publicity for the cause of the tenants. After the Parnellite split in 1891 O’Brien retired to live in a cottage he called “Mallow” on a twenty acre farm near Westport. He had already, while in prison in Galway, written a novel “When we were boys”. In “Mallow” he wrote “A Queen of Men”, a novel based on the life of Grainne Uaile, and his Russian Jewish wife wrote “Beneath Croagh Patrick”.
None of the Land Acts passed up to that time had been of much benefit to the poor tenants along the western seaboard and very soon William O’Brien’s sympathy went out to the tenants of Clare Island who were under threat of eviction. Then he and Dr. McEvilly, Archbishop of Tuam, guaranteed repayments of Annuities for the first seven years. This enabled the tenants of Clare Island to purchase their holdings and O’Brien went on record stating “To their eternal credit it never cost either of us a farthing”. Since the fall of Parnell the Home Rule movement had been hopelessly split into a number of parties or factions, the two principals of which, John Redmond and John Dillon, were the respective leaders. Attempts by O’Brien to heal the split, as similar attempts by Irish Americans, failed utterly. But O’Brien was not one to drop a good idea without a fight. So at Westport in January l898 – the century of the “Men of the west” – he founded the United Irish League supported by Davitt alone of elected representatives. The warring factions ignored him. But in a short time U.I. League had hundreds of branches in Connacht and was spreading across the Shannon. So Redmond, Dillon and their followers had little option but to jump on the bandwagon. At Claremorris on February 1st 1899 the United Irish League became the national organisation under the chairmanship of John Redmond, and O’Brien returned to parliament as the member for Cork City.
But the land question was still very far from settled. For the great majority of small tenants things were only marginally better than in 1881. Then, suddenly and totally unexpected, something happened which led to what many regard as O’Brien’s greatest success. An unknown landlord from Ardrahan, Mr. Shane Taylor, who has taken part in the Boer war, wrote to the Dublin newspapers suggesting a conference and naming a number of well known men to represent both landlords and tenants to draw up proposals for the settlement of land question. No doubt it would have followed millions of other “Letters to the Editor” if it hadn’t been endorsed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland – George Wyndham, a descendant of Lord Edward Fitzgerald and by William O’Brien. After much “Jockeying” the conference met in December 1902. Lord Mayo, a landlords’ representative, told O’Brien he had never seen him before.
“All the bad landlords have seen too much of me”, replied O’Brien, who had even gone to Canada in pursuit of Lord Landsdown, the Viceroy, an evicting Irish Landlord.
Working on a draft submitted by O’Brien, the conference submitted a set of recommendations which formed the basis of the Wyndham Land Act under which hundreds of thousands of tenants had succeeded in purchasing their buildings before 1921. This led Dr. O’Dwyer, Bishop of Limerick, but no admirer, to exclaim “who’d have thought that madman O’Brien would be the one to settle the Land Question?”. But what about Davitt and Dillon ? Very briefly, Davitt wanted to get rid of the landlords and nationalise the land, while Dillion wanted to keep the land question “on the boil” until Home Rule had been achieved. In “William O’Brien and the course of Irish politics” 1881 – 1918, Joseph V. O’Brien tells us “A meeting of the All For Ireland League” at Crossmolina (in Co. Mayo) in 1910 almost had fatal results when revolver shots were fired and (William) O’Briens audience routed by toughs and priests.
How could this have happened and what was the All for Ireland League? O’Brien had become convinced that Home Rule as advocated by Dillon would lead inevitably to Partition and this he totally rejected. Encouraged by the success of the Land Conference, he felt the National Question could be settled in a similar manner and was willing to make almost any concession to the Unionists. So he was branded Concessionist, he and his supporters in Cork whose motto was All For Ireland, Ireland for All. He and Tim Healy withdrew in 1918 and were not among the list of routed members.
In 1927 he was offered nomination for a Cork constituency by the newly formed Fianna Fail party but declined on grounds of age. He died the following year.’ (From here.)
(‘1169’ comment – if his age was his only reason for declining membership of Fianna Fail then we would very much doubt his stated opposition to the ‘landlord class’ – Fianna Fail were founded, in 1926, by the ‘landlord class’, and remain in league with them to this day. William O’ Brien died, at 76 years of age, on the 25th February, 1928, in London.)
By Seán O Donáile, from ‘USI News’, February 1989.
The name ‘Tony Gregory’ was virtually unheard of outside Dublin before 1982 when he was elected as an independent TD (sic) in Dublin Central, a post he still holds. He made national headlines with the famous ‘Gregory Deal’ in the same year when, in return for his support, the Fianna Fáil Government pumped £76 million into the redevelopment of inner city housing. In a frank interview with Seán O Donáile, Tony Gregory muses on the subjects of Dress, Politics, Drugs, Aids, Education, Emigration, the National Question, an Ghaeilge and the Millennium.
In the parochial world of politics, Tony Gregory soon became synonymous with tweed jacket and open-neck dress, and still doesn’t don the customary suit and tie : “People can wear whatever they like. I think those who are offput by dress have very little on their minds and should look at more serious topics rather than wasting time on irrelevant issues.”
On a more serious note, however, I queried Gregory on his background and how he managed to establish himself as a Dáil (sic) ‘regular’, without the backing of a party machine – “I was brought up in a working-class background and I didn’t like the society that I was growing-up in. I wanted to play a part in changing it, so I joined an organisation (‘1169’ comment – he joined ‘Official Sinn Féin’, later renamed ‘The Workers’ Party’) , which I thought was a very radical one at that time. I had the experience of spending a number of years in the Officials and the IRSP after that, who contested elections, so I was familiar with the mechanisms for contesting elections.
However, I found out that this party was radical in some ways but very reactionary in other ways, so I left and became involved in community organisation and through that to electoral politics and I was elected to City Council and subsequently to the Dáil (sic). My reason for going forward was not just to contest and expound theories, but to win..” (MORE LATER.)
FIANNA FÁIL, ‘THE REPUBLICAN PARTY’!
“Let there be no doubt about where Ireland stands. We want nothing to do with the backward-looking ideas of sovereignty. We will remain absolutely committed to the ideals of the European Union, the most successful international organisation in world history..” – Fianna Fáil party leader, Micheál Martin (pictured), attempting to sell himself as ‘a safe pair of hands’ to the EU’s Michel Barnier!
However, in January 2018, Mr Martin stated the following – “It is important to note that members and supporters of Fianna Fáil do find an ideological consistency in the party’s adherence to an idea of progressive republicanism. I know that republicanism doesn’t fit in the standard list of ways of assessing the ideology of political parties internationally but it is important for us. At its core it has been seen by us as being about a state being responsive to its citizens and dedicated to their interests and sovereignty…”
Depending on the audience and/or the particular situation at hand and/or what notion it is he’s trying to ‘sell’ and/or to whom he’s trying to sell it, this Free State career politician is completely flexible when it comes to ‘policies’. Mr Barnier might give him a nice, soft, well-paid and pensioned ‘job’ in a side office in Brussels, where he can sell his political snake oil to a bigger audience.
MAGNIFICENT SUPPORT FOR PRISONERS’ FAMILIES.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, January 1955.
The raising of funds to provide for the dependents of the men and women in jail has greatly improved in recent weeks (‘1169’ comment – a worthy endeavour then and one which continues to this day…) – the Waterford Committee ran a very successful concert and the Dublin Committee succeeded in getting a benefit night at the Shelbourne Greyhound Track (‘1169’ comment – a bad fund-raising move then, and not one that we would support today) ; our sincere thanks are due to the organisers in both cases.
Also, in Cork, collections have more than quadrupled in recent weeks, and generous subscriptions have also been received from the Kerins-O’Neill IRA Club of Chicago, from Portarlington Sinn Féin Cumann, from the Dublin branch of the J.J. Reynolds Memorial Committee, and others.
The committee of the ‘Siamsa Mor’ have agreed to give the proceeds of the ceilidhe in the Mansion House on Sunday, 16th January next to An Cumann Cabhrach, and republicans are urged to support these events. An example of steady support is the ‘Kevin Barry Republican Club’, 44 Parnell Square, Dublin, where a weekly collection has been made among the members for many months past and, to date, they have contributed over £35 – a very praiseworthy effort for a small social club. With the increasing number of arrests and imprisonments, our need is great, but the people are responding generously now as always, to a worthy cause…
Thanks for reading, Sharon.