Historical research can carry you to all kinds of places, such as this 1917 article in the Barrier Miner, reporting on a march in County Clare:-

They marched like guardsmen to the music of their drums and fifes. In their wake came Tom Keane, the Ennis “Boy Martyr” of 16, who has won everlasting fame by reason of his imprisonment, in Galway County Gaol for the crime of drilling Sinn Feiners; the tale in Ennis is that it took “seventeen R.I.C. men to carry him to gaol and half a regiment of the Munsters to keep him there”. He was in command today of 40 children, who marched to the scene of demonstration with rare military precision behind a banner bearing the words, “Remember Dublin.”

The same Tom Keane appears in several Sinn Fein witness statements covering the years 1913 to 1921 held by the Bureau of Military History, e.g. here, here, and here. The first of the three describes how a group of Sinn Fein members, captured after shooting a police office in 1920, went on hunger strike in prison.

After four days, Thomas Keane, who was very young and delicate, was in a bad way […] The Prison Governor, Mr. Faulkner, was a nice man and was more or less in sympathy with us. He visited our cells several times night and day, especially Keane’s whose health was very much worrying the prison doctor. On the seventh day of the strike, all the men on hunger strike were released.

Presumably this was the same Tom Keane who appears in the National Archives at Kew WO 35/102/39. Always interesting to see the same event reported from both sides of the same fence:-

“Prosecution of Thomas Keane; endangering safety of a police constable; 1919; Fruoor [should actually be “Furroor”], County Clare; released on grounds of health.” (Closed For 29 years).

However, was this also the same Thomas Keane who is mentioned in the National Archives WO 35/151B/25: “Death of Thomas Keane; 4th June, 1921; Limerick.”? (Also “Closed For 29 years.”) I suspect it probably was: and so it was there that the “Boy Martyr”‘s young life seems to have ended. 🙁

One thought on “Tom Keane of Sinn Fein?

  1. See, Nick: nearly all government records (any stage of government) have retention periods before they can be released to the attention of the public-at-large.
    Oh ye of great patience and perseverence — congratulations!

    beady-eyed 1-der

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