Dan Keating (Dónall Céitinn) (2 January 1902 – 2 October 2007) was a life-long Irish republican and patron of Republican Sinn Féin. At the time of death he was Ireland’s oldest man and the last surviving veteran of the Irish War of Independence.
Dan Keating was born and raised in the townland of Ballygamboon, Castlemaine, County Kerry. He received his education in local schools, including the Christian Brothers’ School in Tralee. Tralee was also the place where Keating did his apprenticeship. During this time he became a skillful Gaelic football player in his native Kerry.
Keating joined Fianna Éireann in 1918. In 1920, during the Irish War of Independence, he joined the Boherbee B Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Kerry Brigade, Irish Republican Army. On 21 April 1921, Royal Irish Constabulary Constable Denis O’Loughlin was shot dead in Knightly public house in Tralee. Keating, Jimmy O’Connor and Percy Hanafin were suspected of the killing, and were forced to go on the run. On 1 June, Keating was involved in an ambush between Castlemaine and Milltown which claimed the lives of 5 RIC men. On 10 July, a day before the truce between the IRA and British forces, Keating’s unit was involved in a gun battle with the British Army near Castleisland. This confrontation resulted in the deaths of four British soldiers and five IRA Volunteers.
Keating opposed the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and fought on the Republican side in the Irish Civil War. He was involved in operations in counties Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary, before his column was arrested by Free State Forces. Keating spent seven months in Portlaoise Prison and the Curragh Prison before being released in March 1923.
Keating remained an IRA member for a long time after the Civil War. He was arrested several times during the thirties on various charges. Keating was active in London during the 1939/1940 IRA bombing campaign.
In 1933, he was involved in an attempt to assassinate the leader of the Irish Blue Shirts, Eoin O’Duffy, during a visit to County Kerry. The attack was to happen at Ballyseedy, where forces under O’Duffy’s command had carried out a notorious massacre during the Irish Civil War. However, the plot failed when the person travelling with O’Duffy refused to divulge what car the latter would be travelling in.
Keating subsequently returned to Dublin and worked as a barman in several public houses. He retired and returned to his native Kerry in 1978, living out the rest of his life with relatives in Knockbrack. Until his death he refused to accept a state pension because he considered the 26-county Republic of Ireland an illegitimate state which usurped the 1916 Irish Republic. In 2002, he refused the state’s standard €2,500 award to centenarians from president Mary McAleese. After former IRA gun-runner George Harrison died in November 2004, Keating became patron of Republican Sinn Féin until his own death. He was buried in Kiltallagh Cemetery, Castlemaine.