Fergal Keane


Life
1961- ; b. London, of Irish parents; son of actor Eamon Keane, who emigrated from Kerry to Colchester; nephew of J. B. Keane and godson of Siobhan McKenna; his mother Muarea Hassett (an English and French teacher from Cork) left his father, an alcholic, when he was twelve, settling in working-class Finglas, Co. Dublin; ed. in Dublin & Cork; commenced journalism as reporter on Limerick Leader under Brendan Hilligan, ed., through influence of his uncle J. B. Keane (“’Tis up to you now, my lovely boy!”) 1979;
 
proceeded to The Irish Press, and RTÉ as reporter and presenter in Dublin and later in Belfast, 1984-87; moved to London and joined BBC, 1989; covered N. Ireland; South Africa correspondent, Aug. 1990; covered S. Africa during last days of apartheid and the formation of the Republic, reporting on township unrest, and Rwanda elections, 1990-94; appt. Asia correspondent, in Hong Kong, 1995-97;
 
joined BBC World Affairs Unit, London; awarded OBE in 1996 for humanitarian reportage; issued Letters to Daniel (1996), addressed to his son, a warm effusion on the experiences as ‘war correspondent’ informed by his own familial background; gave Huw Weldon Memorial Lecture (BBC 1997); experienced escalating alcohol addiction and quit drinking, c.1999; issued A Stranger’s Eye (2000), which with damaged lives and devastated landscapes of Britain from down-and-out London and Cornwall to Castlederg in Co. Tyrone.

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Works
The Bondage of Fear: A Journey through the Last White Empire
(London: Viking Press 1994; Penguin 1995), 242pp.; Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey (London: Viking Press 1995; Penguin 1996), 198pp.; Tony Grant, ed., Letters to Daniel: Dispatches from the Heart (BBC/Penguin 1996), 238pp.; A Stranger’s Eye: A Foreign Correspondent's View of Britain (London: Penguin 2000, 2001), 217pp.; All of These People: A Memoir (Harper Collins 2005), 412pp., ill. [+8pp. photos].

Miscellaneous, with Shane Kenny, Shane McElhatton & Linda Sherlock, Irish Politics Now: “This Week” Guide to the 25th Dáil (Dingle: Brandon Press/ RTÉ 1987), 224pp. [also incls. Michael Yeats and Brendan Walsh]; The Art of the Reporter [Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture 1997] (BBC 1997), video-cassette [50 mins.]

See www.newsworld.co.uk/Rsf/fergalkeane.html.

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Criticism
Terry Eagleton, review of Fergal Keane, A Stranger’s Eye (Penguin), in The Irish Times [Weekend] (27 May 2000).

Notes
Kith & Kin: Fergal Keane is son of Eamonn Patrick Keane (1925-90; born Edmund Keane), ed. St. Michael's Coll., Listowel; joined Abbey, 1942p left theatre due to pleurisy and joined Civil Service; offered place in RTE repertory, 1953; suspended in 1957 for insulting remarks about Minister of P & T.; played notably in Sharon's Grave and The Field; played the matchmaker Dan Paddy Andy in The Field, having been prevented from playing The Bird Flanagan by his alcoholism, in the judgement of the producer, Noel Pearson (Olympia Th.); m. Maura Hassett, a teacher from Cork, 1960 (sep. 1970); one dg. and two sons, among whom Fergal; also worked for BBC, ITV and RTE; wrote short fiction; he was playing the lead in The Playboy of the Western World at the Royal Court, London, when Eamon was born in that city. (See Books Ireland, Summer 2005, p.150).

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