Keane, Eamonn Patrick (1925–90), actor, was born Edmund Keane on 30 March 1925 in Listowel, Co. Kerry, second among nine children of William Keane, national school teacher, from Listowel, and Hannah Keane (née Purtill), farmer's daughter, from Ballydonoghue, near Listowel. Educated at the local national school, where one of his teachers was the writer Bryan MacMahon (qv), and at St Michael's College, Listowel, he decided to pursue a theatrical career. He joined the Abbey Theatre in Dublin as a trainee (1942), but was forced to leave due to pleurisy and took up a position in the civil service with the Department of Lands. After taking part in a radio programme on the poems of Sigerson Clifford (qv), he was offered a place in the RTÉ repertory company in 1953, but was suspended in 1957 for insulting remarks made about the minister for posts and telegraphs, Neil Blaney (qv), at a Donegal Association dinner, after which he ‘had to leave the country in a hurry’ (Keane, Letters home, 8), moving to London, where he held a number of odd jobs including sorting furs for the Hudson Bay trading company. Returning to acting in Ireland and Britain he performed in a number of stage productions at the Abbey and Gate theatres in Dublin and with the English Stage Company. Among the plays in which he acted were some written by his brother John B. Keane (qv), including ‘Sharon's grave’ (as Dinzee Colee) and ‘The field’ (as Bird O'Donnell). He also acted in television productions for the BBC, ITV, and RTÉ, winning two Jacobs awards with RTÉ for his performances in ‘When do you die friend?’ (1966) and ‘Diary of a madman’ (1971). He wrote short stories, some of which were broadcast on RTÉ and the BBC, contributed regularly to the popular RTÉ radio programme ‘Sunday miscellany’, and was noted for his one-man show ‘The embankment’, which he performed regularly in Listowel. In the film version of ‘The field’ (1989), he played the Kerry matchmaker Dan Paddy Andy; he had originally sought the role of Bird Flanagan, but the producer (Noel Pearson) did not believe that he was up to such a major role because of his alcoholism. He made several unsuccessful efforts to give up drink: ‘The booze beat the daylights out of him but he kept trying’ (Keane, Letters home, 5). His drinking led to his separation from his wife (1970) and estrangement from his children. He died 7 January 1990 in Tralee.
He married (22 February 1960) Maura Hassett, secondary school teacher and daughter of Patrick Hassett, garage owner, and Mary Sexton from Douglas, Co. Cork, having met her on the set of ‘Sharon's grave’. They had one daughter and two sons, one of whom, Fergal Keane, became a well known journalist, broadcaster and writer.