Sir John Keane, 5th Baronet

Sir John Keane, 5th Baronet, DSO (3 June 1873 – 30 January 1956) was an Irish barrister and politician.

Sir John Keane, Bt
Sir John Keane, seated with hat, pictured with his family.
In office
March 1938  April 1948
ConstituencyNominated by the Taoiseach
In office
December 1922  December 1934
ConstituencyNominated by the President of the Executive Council
Personal details
Born(1873-06-03)3 June 1873
Died30 January 1956(1956-01-30) (aged 82)
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Lady Eleanor Lucy Hicks-Beach
Children1 son, 3 daughters
Alma materRoyal Military Academy Woolwich
ProfessionBarrister, Soldier

Keane was educated at Clifton College and Royal Military Academy Woolwich. He succeeded his father as 5th Baronet in 1892 and was appointed High Sheriff of County Waterford for 1911–12.[1] He was a member of Seanad Éireann and a director of Bank of Ireland becoming Governor (Chairman) from 1941 to 1943.

Military career

He was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery 17 June 1893; served in South Africa during the Second Boer War (mentioned in despatches, London Gazette 10 September 1901, Queen's South Africa Medal). During World War I, he was mentioned in despatches, awarded the Distinguished Service Order (London Gazette 14 January 1916) and the French Legion of Honour (London Gazette 14 July 1917). He ended the war as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Tank Corps.

Senate career

Before the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, Keane had worked with the IAOS, served on Waterford County Council and was a member of the All-for-Ireland League that supported Home Rule.[2]

In 1922, Sir John was nominated by the President of the Executive Council to Seanad Éireann of the Irish Free State, and served until 1934.[3] In 1923 his home at Cappoquin House was burned by anti-government forces in the Irish Civil War, which he then rebuilt. He later served in the reconstituted Seanad Éireann established by the Constitution of Ireland, serving from 1938 to 1948 on the nomination of the Taoiseach.

Shannon electrification scheme

In 1925 he was a major opponent of the Shannon electrification scheme, describing it as "the poisonous virus of nationalisation".

Censorship of publications

In 1942 he was involved in the first occasion on which the Seanad censored itself. On 18 November 1942, Sir John moved: "That, in the opinion of Seanad Éireann, the Censorship of Publications Board appointed by the Minister for Justice under the Censorship of Publications Act, 1929, has ceased to retain public confidence, and that steps should be taken by the Minister to reconstitute the board." and sparked four days of fierce debate, carrying over to 2, 3, and concluding on 9 December 1942.

He quoted extensively from one book The Tailor and Ansty by Eric Cross, which was banned in Ireland soon after its first publication in that year. The Editor of Debates prudishly excluded the quotation from the Official Report; the entry states only: "The Senator quoted from the book". He taunted William Magennis for thinking that two men embracing in another book amounted to sodomy.

At the end of the debate and much discussion in the public press, his point made, Sir John sought leave to withdraw the motion. The question “That leave be given by the Seanad to withdraw the motion, item No. 2, on the Order Paper” was put and negatived. The question on the main motion was then duly put and declared negatived. However Senators claimed for a division, and the motion was defeated: For 2 votes - Sir John Keane and Joseph Johnston - Against 34 votes.


He married Lady Eleanor Lucy Hicks-Beach, the eldest daughter of Earl St Aldwyn, with whom he had one son and three daughters.[1]

The UK's National Portrait Gallery includes three photographic portraits of Sir John Keane taken by Bassano's studio on 30 March 1920.


  1. Thom's Irish Who's Who. p. 120.
  2. Symes G. Sir John Keane and Cappoquin House in Time of War and Revolution Four Courts Press (2016) ISBN 1846826136
  3. "Sir John Keane, Bart". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Richard Francis Keane
(of Cappoquin)
Succeeded by
Richard Michael Keane

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.