Tragedy of Ballykissane recalled

THREE men who form a key part of Kerry’s political and historical story were remembered with great fondness and respect as a special 1916 commemoration at Ballykissane Pier, Killorglin early this Thursday morning.

The tragic drowning of Con Keating, Donal Sheehan and Charles Monahan, on Good Friday 1916, was reflected upon by the gathering which included relatives of the victims and local political and community leaders.

At the beginning of 1916, Michael Collins and senior members of the IRB assembled a team to be sent to Caherciveen at Easter to seize wireless radio equipment from the Atlantic College in the town. The equipment was to be used to facilitate communications between rebel leaders and some sources suggest it was to be used to contact the Aud or to distract the British Navy.

At a special State ceremonial event at Ballykissane Pier, Killorglin, was Kay Keating a relative of Con Keating
At a special State ceremonial event at Ballykissane Pier, Killorglin, was Kay Keating a relative of Con Keating

Among the team was Caherciveen native and wireless expert, Con Keating who had studied at the Atlantic College. His fellow team-members were Denis Daly, also Caherciveen, Charlie Monahan from Belfast, Daniel Sheehan from Newcastle West and Colm Ó Lochlainn from Dublin.

Arriving from Dublin to Killarney railway station on the evening of Good Friday, the five were driven in two cars, One vehicle, driven by Tommy McInerney from Limerick, contained Keating, Sheehan and Monahan, and the other, driven by Samuel Windrim, also from Limerick, carried Denis Daly and Colm Ó Lochlainn.

On the way to Killorglin the cars became separated. McInerney failed to take the correct road for Caherciveen and at the church in Killorglin, drove straight ahead rather than to the left. He drove off the end of the pier at Ballykissane, shortly after 9p.00m. His three passengers drowned and McInerney was arrested.

Windrim, Daly and Ó Lochlainn, having waited near Caherciveen for the others to catch up and not knowing what had happened, aborted the mission.

Today’s commemoration at Ballykissane Pier, featured music from the Killorglin Pipe Band and a local harpist. Kay Keating, a grand-niece of Con Keating, spoke about the tragedy and there was a colour party from the Defence Forces in attendance.

Mayor of Kerry, Cllr Tim Buckley, laid a wreath at the pier’s edge to remember the three drowning victims.

* Pictures: Valerie O’Sullivan. Click on individual images to enlarge and for information