Ned Keogh (1896 – 1957)

Ned Keogh

This is a story written by Liam Keogh about his father, Edward (Ned) Keogh

Although I was born in the Ranch, a district in Inchicore, Dublin, my first awareness of life was in a thatched cottage in Kiltorcan in Ballyhale Parish, County Kilkenny.

I lived with my mother, (Ellen, nee Collins) her father, William Collins, also known as Colonel, her sister, Stasia and her brother, John. When I was three years of age, my sister was born. So far, I had never heard of my father. I was very happy there and started school in Ballyhale National School.

Some of my earliest recollections are, of men with rifles calling to the house. They would stack their rifles inside the door, have a rest and cups of tea and then leave again. It was the time of the Civil War and they were members of the Republican Flying Columns.

IRA Flying Volumn

It was September 1923, that a stranger (to me) walked into the house and as my mother and her sister Stasia rushed out from another room to greet him, I will always remember Stasia’s first words, “well, look who’s here, the old prisoner”. This was my father who was just released from Internment in Hare Park Camp, Curragh. They had been expecting his release from internment but didn’t know exactly when it would happen.

A few weeks later, mother, father and sister, Maire and I left Ballyhale for Dublin. When we arrived at Kingsbridge Station (now Heuston), it was almost dark and we got a horse drawn cab to take us to our home in 10 Park Street, Inchicore.

My father was born in Dublin in the year 1896. He attended the Christian Brothers School in Golden Bridge in Inchicore and left school as soon as it was legal to do so.

He worked for the Oblate Fathers as a messenger and later entered the Great Southern Railway Works in Inchicore as a boy labourer. At the time, the Dublin workers suffered very harsh and badly paid conditions. They were completely unorganised and at the mercy of their employers. The Dublin Dockers were paid in Public Houses and were expected to “treat” the owners and many men went home with very little of their wages.

About 1908, a Labour Organiser named James Larkin came to Dublin and organised the workers into a Trade Union called the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. With James Larkin came another great labour organiser, named James Connolly.

The success and growth of the Transport Union alarmed the Dublin Employers and 402 of them led by William Martin Murphy (owner of the Irish Independent Newspaper and Controller of the Dublin United Tramway Company) banded together and ordered their employees to end their membership of their Union or face dismissal from their employment. When the Union members didn’t comply they were “locked out”, thus began a struggle, which lasted six months.

The authorities in Dublin Castle sided with the employers. They brought the R.I.C (an armed Police Force) to Dublin. They travelled in twos, on whatever trams were running and scabs from England were used against the workers.

The Dublin Metropolitan Police subjected workers’ meetings to baton chargers and several injuries were inflicted on the workers. On one occasion, two men were battened to death. One of the biggest baton charges took place in O’Connell Street at this time. Larkin decided it was time to form a force to protect their meetings and he formed an armed unit called the Irish Citizen Army. My father joined this force in 1914. He was a member of the Firing Party over the grave of O’Donovan Rossa in 1915 and was standing beside Padraig Pearse as he delivered the Oration at the graveside.

My father was employed in the Great Southern and Western Railway Works in Inchicore from May 1912 to Easter Week in April 1916. He obeyed the call to action on Easter Saturday and reported to his unit of Irish Citizen Army at Liberty Hall and on Easter Monday 1916 marched to St Stephen’s Green and fought there under the command of Michael Mallin (who was executed after the surrender on 8th May 1916), second in command of the garrison was Countess Markievicz,

After surrender, he and his comrades were brought to Kilmainham Gaol and then to Richmond Barracks. From Richmond Barracks, he was marched to the North Wall, Dublin and deported and imprisoned in Knutsford Jail – and after being a month there was removed and interned in Frongoch Concentration Camp in Wales. After about three weeks there, he was sent to Wandsworth Jail to appear before Justice Sankey’s Tribunal.

After being in Wandsworth for a couple of days, he was sent back to Frongoch where he remained until he was released at the end of August 1916.

When he came home, the Great Southern Railway refused to re-employ him, because of his activities in Easter Week. He was in receipt of 15 shillings per week from the National Aid Association from the time of his release until the 30th November 1916.

He undertook temporary employment in Ballyhale, Co. Kilkenny (procured for him by the National Aid Association). He returned at regular intervals to his unit of I.C.A taking part in parades, drills and was available for any military activities if the occasion arose.

It was during the period of his employment in Co. Kilkenny that he met my mother and they married in Callan, Co Kilkenny in 1918. (I was born in 1919). He and his wife came to Dublin on the 30th October 1918 and he resumed with his unit in I.C.A. unit 31st December 1918 when he transferred to “F” Co. 4th Batt, Dublin Brigade I.R.A.

He got temporary employment in T & C Martin’s Sawmills until November 1919 and my mother and 7 months old baby had to return to her father in Co. Kilkenny. We returned to Dublin in February 1920 when my father got employment in Richard Martins but we had to back to Kilkenny again in March 1921.

My father was unemployed until May 1922. After a long delay and with the help of Mr. Joseph McGrath (then Minister for Labour in Provisional Government) who acted as intermediary for the 1916 men who were victimised by the G.S.R. were re-instated in May 1922.

My father, mother and two children were preparing to settle into normal life again when the Civil War started. My father was in the Four Courts when the Free State Army attacked it.

My mother, baby sister and I had to return to Co. Kilkenny again, where we remained until the end of Civil War in November 1923. My father took the Republican Side during the Civil War and while on armed patrol exchanged shots with National Army Officers on Inchicore Road in October 1922. He was arrested the following morning, was imprisoned in Wellington Barracks and later transferred to Harepark Camp Curragh. While in Harepark, he assisted in tunnelling operations to enable high profile prisoners to escape. He was on police duty around the camp dining hall and ready to give the signal to the men in the dining hall (who were putting the clay between the floor and the ground) if any of the military were coming around the Camp. He took part in a hunger strike in Harepark. His internment lasted from October 1922 until November 1923.


The Irish Citizen Army was formed after the 1913 Lock Out in Dublin. Its original intention was to safeguard the workers against the brutality of the armed Police. The Royal Irish Constabulary) the Headquarters of the Citizen Army was Liberty Hall. A section of the I.C.A was formed in Inchicore which numbered about 16 men and another section of 8 men was formed in Swords and Liberty Hall section had a couple of hundred volunteers.

My father became a member of the Inchicore Section and they drilled in Emmet Hall. The Emmet Hall was the meeting place of the Irish Transport Workers Union members employed in the G.S.R Railway Works Inchicore. About this time, Mr William Partridge formed a Fife and Drum Band and they also used the hall for their practice sessions. The Inchicore section of the I.C.A didn’t last long so my father joined the band. About two months after he joined the band, the Band Master left the band and Mr. Partridge secured the services of Michael Mallin (who was later executed after the 1916 Rising) who was an accomplished musician as well as a military man.

My father became friendly with Mr. Mallin and during a conversation with him, he told the about the collapse of the Inchicore Branch of the I.C.A. because they had no one capable of training them. Mr. Mallin decided to re-organise the Inchicore Section and they drilled with wooden poles and later wooden rifles until they got their share of the German Mausers which were landed in Howth, (they became know as the Howth Gun.)

My father transferred to “F” Company Dublin Brigade I.R.A. in January 1919. He took part in attempted burning of Chapelizod Police Barracks, the escape from Kilmainham Jail, the occupation of Inchicore Railway Works when armoured plating was removed, the attack on British forces at Red Cow, he stood to arms owing to threatened reprisals during 1920-21.

During the truce, he was Company Police Officer for Company Area. He was in charge of armed guard on Irish Transport Union Officials when they were bringing money from Hibernian Bank Inchicore to Emmet Hall and kept an armed guard in the Hall while strike money was being paid to the Transport Union Members who were on strike. He was also on armed guard on a hall in Chapelizod December 1921 when money was being paid out at Christmas.

After exchanging shots with National Army Officers (free staters) on Inchicore Road in October 1922, he was arrested the following morning and imprisoned in Wellington Barracks before being removed to Hare Park Camp in November 1922 and was a prisoner until his release in November 1923. His military activities ended on his release as the Civil War was over.

Ned Keogh was a lifelong member of the G.A.A. and played football with the Geraldine Club. He also acted as their secretary for a period. During his internment in Frongoch, he took part in matches that were organised between the Dublin prisoners and Kerry prisoners. When his playing days were over, he organised a Gaelic Football Club in the parish of Inchicore. It was called St. Michaels G.F.C. it started with under 16 and under 18 teams and those teams went on to become an adult team. All those teams had reasonable success winning South City leagues, minor leagues and Dublin Junior Leagues.

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