Talented actor and short story writer


IRISH LIVES:EAMONN PATRICK KEANE (1925–90), actor, was born Edmund Keane on March 30th, 1925, in Listowel, Co Kerry, the second of nine children of William Keane, a national-school teacher, and Hannah Keane (née Purtill).

Keane was educated at the local national school and at St Michael’s College, Listowel. He joined the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1942, but pleurisy forced him to leave, and he joined the Civil Service. After taking part in a radio programme he was offered a place in the RTÉ repertory company in 1953. He was suspended in 1957 for making insulting remarks about the minister for posts and telegraphs, Neil Blaney, and “had to leave the country in a hurry”. Keane went to London, where he held a number of jobs.

He returned to acting, however, and performed at the Abbey and Gate theatres in Dublin and with the English Stage Company. Among the plays in which he performed were Sharon’s Graveand The Field, written by his brother, John B Keane. In 1960 he married Maura Hassett, a teacher from Co Cork he met on the set of Sharon’s Grave. He also acted on television for the BBC, ITV and RTÉ.

He wrote short stories, too, some of which were broadcast on RTÉ and the BBC, contributed regularly to Sunday Miscellanyand was noted for his one-man show The Embankment. In the film of The Field(1989) he played the matchmaker, Dan Paddy Andy. He had wanted the role of Bird Flanagan, but the producer, Noel Pearson, did not believe he was up to such a major role because of his alcoholism. His drinking led to his separation from his wife in 1970 and estrangement from his children. They had one daughter and two sons, one of whom, Fergal Keane, became a well-known journalist, broadcaster and writer. He died on January 7th, 1990, in Tralee.

From the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of Irish Biography.See dib.ie for details