Sir John Keane, 5th Baronet

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Sir John Keane, Bt
Sir John Keane (1873-1956) 5th Baronet.jpg
Sir John Keane, seated with hat, pictured with his family.
In office
March 1938 – April 1948
Constituency Nominated by the Taoiseach
In office
December 1922 – December 1934
Constituency Nominated by the President of the Executive Council
Personal details
Born (1873-06-03)3 June 1873
Died 30 January 1956(1956-01-30) (aged 82)
Nationality Irish
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Lady Eleanor Lucy Hicks-Beach
Children 1 son, 3 daughters
Alma mater Royal Military Academy Woolwich
Profession Barrister, Soldier

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

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

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.[2] 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]

National Portrait Gallery

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


  1. ^ a b Thom's Irish Who's Who. p. 120.
  2. ^ "Sir John Keane, Bart". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 16 January 2016.

External links

  • Portraits of Sir John Keane at the National Portrait Gallery, London (gives birth and death as 1873-1956)
  • The full text of the Official Report of historical debates in the upper (and lower) house of the Irish parliament
  • Famous Kanes (and Keanes) (gives birth and death as 1872-1960)
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Richard Francis Keane
(of Cappoquin)
Succeeded by
Richard Michael Keane

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