RIC District Inspector Michael Keaney

RIC District Inspector Michael Keaney (aged 54) from County Leitrim (Clonakilty)

Date of incident: 11 Feb. 1922

Sources: CCE, 18 Feb. 1922; CWN, 18 Feb. 1922; British Forces Missing, A/0909 (Military Archives); Abbott (2000), 277-78; Application of Michael Francis Keaney to Irish Grants Committee, 25 Oct. 1927 (CO 762/152/6, TNA); Keane (2017), 282-83, 415.


Note: Having previously served for over nine years as Head Constable of the RIC in Clonakilty (before his appointment as District Inspector), Michael Keaney returned to the town on Saturday, 11 February 1922, to remove his wife and family and their furniture from the RIC barracks there. After spending most of that day arranging the details of the transfer, he was proceeding from the local hotel to the RIC barracks (about a hundred yards away) with his son Edward at about 11 or 11:30 p.m. when he was attacked by armed men at short range, shot four times, and killed. His 19-year-old son was severely wounded in the attack and remained an invalid. The assailants escaped in the darkness. ‘There were few people in the vicinity at the time, but nevertheless the news spread rapidly and created quite a sensation, as the town has been in a peaceable condition since the 11th of July last.’ See CCE, 18 Feb. 1922.

Almost exactly a year earlier, during the War of Independence, Keaney had received ‘a first class Favourable Record and a grant of £10 for his actions during an [IRA] ambush at Rosscarbery, where he brought his men safely out. It was also stated that six IRA men were killed and others wounded during this action.’ See Abbott (2000), 277-78. After his service in Clonakilty, Head Constable Keaney had been promoted to the rank of District Inspector; he had been transferred to Cork city and placed in charge of the Tuckey Street RIC Barracks. His wife and family, however, had continued to live in Clonakilty and Michael Keaney ‘used to visit them occasionally for week-ends’. A newspaper reporter remarked that District Inspector Keaney ‘was well known in police circles in this and other counties’. See CCE, 18 Feb. 1922. He must have been equally well known in IRA circles. He had almost thirty-three years of RIC service at the time of his death. See Abbott (2000), 277.

After the killing of RIC District Inspector Michael Keaney, the rest of his family fled to England, where his wife lingered until her death ‘from total collapse’ in September 1924. There were five children in all, including Michael Francis (aged 17 at the time of the shooting), Patrick (aged 14), Celia (aged 12), and John (aged 7). In October 1927 son Michael Francis Keaney sought compensation of £2,500 for their mother’s death and for the benefit of the five children (£500 each). His deceased mother had already been awarded £1,500 for herself and almost £3,000 in addition for her five children together by the Compensation (Ireland) Committee. See Application of Michael Francis Keaney to Irish Grants Committee (IGC), 25 Oct. 1927 (CO 762/152/6, TNA). Son Michael Francis spelled his family’s surname as Keaney in his IGC application.

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