Born in Castlemaine, County Kerry, in January 1902, he fought in the War of Independence and later against the Free State forces in the Civil War. He was involved in two major attacks on British auxiliaries, at Castlemaine and Castleisland, where up to twelve Black and Tans troops were killed.
Keating became patron of hard-line movement Republican Sinn Féin in 2002. Party president Ruairi O’Bradaigh described him as an inspiration. “One of the last, if not the last IRA veteran of the Black and Tan war, he was Patron of Republican Sinn Fein to the very day of his death and an inspiration to all true Republicans,” Mr O’Bradaigh said.
Keating remained steadfast in his hard-line views throughout his life. He refused a state pension because he regarded the Government as fundamentally illegitimate and later refused the €2,500 centenarians award over President Mary McAleese’s increasingly close relations with the British royal family. He refused to watch his beloved Kerry in the All-Ireland final in 2006 after the GAA opened Croke Park to soccer and rugby. Keating was also among a 250-strong group of former IRA prisoners who took out a full page newspaper advert in March this year urging people not to vote for Sinn Féin iover its support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Keating’s death marks breaks one of the last direct links with the conflict that culminated in the creation of an independent Irish state. However, his stubbornrefusal to recognise the government of the Republic of Ireland, his opposition to the GAA’s decision to open Croke Park to “foreign sports” and his opposition to Sinn Fein over its support for PSNI is proof to me that age does not confer wisdom. His stance was out of utterly out of step with the vast majority of nationalists in all parts of Ireland who realise that their cause is better advanced through peaceful political means rather than continue with an ever futile conflict.
A late cousin of mine fought in the North Cork brigade of the IRA and initially opposed the Treaty. By the time WWII broke out he was in living in England and working on the development of new radar systems for the British military. He had no qualms about accepting a state pension from the Irish government and I am sure he would considered Mr Keating’s inflexibility as foolish.