Ireland’s oldest known twins die within days of each other

Kathleen and Sheila Keogan, from Co Cavan, were 95 when they passed away last weekend

Identical twins Kathleen & Sheila Keogan pictured together as young women. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan

Identical twins Kathleen & Sheila Keogan pictured together as young women. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan

 

Ireland’s oldest known twins died within a two days of each other last week.

Kathleen Keogan from Aughalion, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan died last Friday morning. Her identical twin sister Sheila died on Sunday afternoon. She did not know her sister had passed away. They were 95 years old.

The sisters were born on June 14th, 1920 to John and Margaret (Mama) Keogan in a family of 10 children – Mary, Eileen, Peg, James, Paddy, Terry, Sean and Bernadette.

As twins, Kathleen and Shelia spent a lot of time together – they attended national school in Cormaddyduff School Cavan and then moved on to the Gilsen-Endowed Academy in Oldcastle, Co Meath before moving to London to train as nurses in Fulham Hospital in 1938.

They both served as nurses during the second World War. They wrote home to their family in Cavan most weeks to let them know they had survived bombings, including a direct hit on the hospital in Hammersmith. On that occasion, the bomb struck the centre of the building with the twins were separated in the two wings. It was two days before they found out whether each other had survived.

They nursed patients in makeshift wards in the London Underground and both contracted TB.

Kathleen spent over five years in hospital. Shelia served in the Red Cross Nursing Corps towards the end of the war.

The sisters are said to have followed a philosophy of “a little of what you fancy does you good!”

They travelled places such as San Francisco, the Bahamas and Rome and went on a number of cruises, always together.

Kathleen had a fondness for cars and owned, among others, a Ford Mustang and Karmann Ghia, which was especially shipped from Germany for her.

On retirement they both returned to Aughalion, Cavan.

They entered the Sheelin Nursing Home in Mountnugent together.

Their nephew Damien said: “Kathleen and Sheila were proud Keogan women. Neither of them married but they were loved deeply by all their family, their surviving brother Sean and sister Bernadette, all their nephews and nieces and everyone that knew and loved them. They were wonderful ladies, full of fun, love and a sense of adventure.”

The sisters were buried together in Castlerahan cemetery on the October 5th.