Ireland's oldest man dies aged 105
One of the last survivors of the War of Independence and Ireland's oldest man has died after a short illness.
Dan Keating, a 105-year-old Kerryman and unrepentant Republican, fell ill last month and was treated in hospital for several weeks but never fully recovered.
He died yesterday in Kerry.
Born in Castlemaine in January 1902, he joined youth movement Na Fianna aged 16 and fought in the War of Independence against the Black and Tans and later against the Free State forces in the Civil War.
Keating, an IRA rifleman, was involved in two major attacks on British auxiliaries, at Castlemaine and Castleisland, where up to twelve Black and Tans troops were killed.
He was interned a number of times in the Curragh Camp in Co Kildare in the 1920s.
He became patron of hard-line movement Republican Sinn Féin in 2002 and 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 the 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 also refused to watch his beloved Kerry in the All-Ireland final in 2006 after the GAA lifted its controversial Rule 42 and opened Croke Park to soccer and rugby.
Keating was 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 over the party’s support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
“Dan Keating was a fine Republican who was an inspiration to many generations of Irish people who long to see a united Ireland,” Mr Long said.
Before his death he gave a moving recollection of the execution of Republican Tony Gibson from Co Laois.
“I was in Portlaoise at the time and was sick in hospital. I was looking out the window when this man was being executed,” Keating said.
“There were five men in the firing squad. He was only wounded and a man went up and fired two shots into his head.”