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Jack Keogh Ballinasloe IRA sent for trial - May 1924

East Galway Democrat, Saturday, 10 and 17 May 1924
 Transcribed and submitted by Damian Mac Con Uladh









On Friday morning May 9th at 11.30 a.m. John Keogh (jun.), Deerpark, Ballinasloe, was arraigned on a number of charges in the Ballinasloe Courthouse before Mr J H Gallagher, BL, DJ. Much interest was manifested in the proceedings and the courthouse was thronged. Mr Bewley, BL, (instructed by Mr R J Kelly, State Solicitor), prosecuted. Mr Russell said he appeared for the friends of the prisoner who said he did not recognise the court being a soldier of the Irish Republic. Supt Byrne represented the Garda. Accused declined to recognise the court, and when asked to cross-examine any of the witnesses, made the following statement: ''As a soldier of the Irish Republic I refuse to recognise this court. Anything I did, I did it as a military necessity. I pass no apology to this court, if it is a court, or to anyone else for my acts." The statement was greeted with applause in the gallery, and Mr Gallagher said if such were carried on he would clear the court. Sgt Cahill stated he took the prisoner into custody from the military on Thursday, 8th May.


Mr Bewley said that he proposed to go on with 13 separate charges. The first was a raid on 6th February, 1923, on Killimor barracks, the said Jack Keogh being himself armed with a revolver and accompanied by other armed men, did feloniously break and enter the Civic Guard barracks at Killimor at the hour of 10.30 p.m., and did feloniously steal, take and carry away certain goods the property of the Chief Commissioner of the Civic Guard to the value of £2 and upwards. A second count that the said John Keogh did set fire to certain bedding and stationery and did make an assault upon Sgt Ml Maher, and did then beat, wound and ill-treat the said Sergt Maher. There was a similar charge, in the case of Guard Ml O'Leary. Sgt Maher deposed that on the 6th February, 1923, he was stationed in Killimor. At about 10.30 p.m. he was in the office upstairs when he heard the door being broken in below. He heard parties coming in and heard a voice say "Hands up," and then a voice asked for the sergeant swearing at the same time. A man pulled a gun to him. The man called him a "spy" and "informer" and said that he "gave away" men in the district and that he had a good mind to “plug” him where he stood. He recognised the man but didn't know who he was. He did now. He was Keogh the prisoner. Keogh who had a revolver, forced them to take off their tunics. The Guards were an unarmed force. When they did take them off Keogh searched the pockets of them and then searched Guard O'Leary. Keogh then went upstairs. He went up with him and Keogh threw down the bedding and stationery. After some arguing Keogh allowed them to take out their civilian clothes. On top of the bedding and stationery Keogh poured petrol and told the Guards to clear out. There were three others with Keogh, one at the door armed with a rifle. Keogh said — "You can tell the military that Keogh and Larkin are responsible for the burning, and there is no need to go raiding for anyone else." Guard O'Leary, Tuam, corroborated. Prisoner was returned for trial to next court of competent jurisdiction in the county.


In the charge of raiding Ballymacward Cooperative Stores on the 24th August 1923, the Manager, Mr Tierney, stated that Keogh entered the stores arriving in a motor, and producing a revolver said "You are caught at last you spy." Keogh took a revolver from witness. Goods were taken, Keogh signed a list for the missing goods. Accused — Why didn't you use the revolver you had? Witness — I could not. Accused — You were too bloody cowardly. Accused was returned for trial.


The accused was also charged in connection with an incident at Ganaveen on the 20th Feb. 1923.Guard Gleeson stated he was on patrol duty on the Ballinasloe road on the 20th Feb 1923. Guard Devins was with him at Ganaveen. Five armed men came out from behind a wall when the Guards were within 20 yards of them and gave them the order to "Halt." He recognised the prisoner, John Keogh, as one of the men. The men had rifles. He halted. Keogh asked their names, and asked what counties they came from. Keogh and another took their caps from them and ordered them to strip off. They REFUSED TO STRIP OFF. The men ordered them also to take off their tunics and they had to do so at the point of the gun. Guard Devins said be never deserved to be stripped by another countryman of his own. Keogh said— "Why didn't you stick to what you were?" Keogh then threatened to throw them in the river. Guard Devins said that be was stripped once by the Tans; and then the men threatened to take off his boots and trousers. The men were attempting to take off Guard Devins' boots and one of them spoke up and said there was enough done to them. The men said they would call in a month's time to burn them out of the barracks. Guard Devins corroborated. Keogh, he said, asked—"Why didn't you stick to what you were. WHY DID YE LET DOWN THE REPUBLIC?” He replied— "Perhaps we are better Irishmen than ye are. I was abused by be British forces and didn't expect this from Irishmen.” Returned for trial.


Samuel Sloan, clerk, Ballinasloe Post Office, deposed be was on duty in P.O. between 1 and 2 a.m. on the 11th August, 1922. He opened the rear door to admit the mail car driver. Four or five men then came into the office. He recognised John Keogh, the prisoner. All the men had revolvers in their hands. One of them ordered him to put up his hands and asked where was the picket. He said the picket was not on duty. He was ordered to show them upstairs. One man had him covered with a revolver. Three of them went upstairs. Keogh was upstairs. One of them told him to stand against the table and then one of them went to the telephone and cut the wires of the plugs and took the telephone receiver. The other men dismantled the A.B.C instrument, and John Keogh twisted the handle of the transmitter. One man asked where was the money kept, and he told him it was locked in the overseer's office which he pointed out to them through the glass window. One of the men said it was too big to carry away. They broke open the drawers in the counters of the sorting office and took £2 18s 11½d in cash and 10s worth of two-penny postage stamps. They asked him to check the amount and John Keogh ordered one of the men to GIVE WITNESS A RECEIPT for the amount taken. He was ordered not to report the matter for at least 20 minutes, and then left. Patrick Finneran deposed that in August 1922 he was employed as indoor postman in the P.O. Between 1 and 2 on that morning he was on duty. He saw Mr Sloan open the door. Four or five men came in and were armed. One of them, John Keogh, spoke to him. Keogh asked where was the picket and he said he didn't see it since he came on that duty. Some of them went upstairs and he was guarded by others downstairs. He saw the men come down again and go to the drawers which they broke open. Returned for trial.


A charge of an alleged armed raid with John Downey on the house of Thos Larkin, Doon, Ahascragh, and the alleged shooting with a revolver with intent to murder John Larkin, a brother, was proceeded with. The occurrence was alleged to have taken place on the 24th September 1923.John Larkin, Doon, Ahascragh, deposed he was an ex-member of the RIC. He remembered the 24th September 1923, when be was in bed. He was awakened between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning by the barking of a dog in the street. Subsequently he heard knocking at the kitchen door. He got up, put on his trousers, and went down to the door. He asked who was there, and the answer was "Republican Soldiers." He asked what they wanted and they said a bed for a few hours. He said all the beds in the house were occupied. They asked him to let them see. He took the lock off the door and let them in. Two men came in. He didn't know them then. The men who first came in asked if he were "Tommy." Tommy was his brother. Tommy lived with him. He said "no" that his brother was getting up. The man asked had he a match to light a candle. While witness was lighting the candle his brother came on the scene, as did also his father and mother. The man who had spoken to him went to his brother and said — "Are you the man who was talking about the dirty, cowardly Republicans?" His brother said "No" that he had quite enough to do without bothering about any of them. Witness said he never heard him say anything about them either. The man who was speaking said to his brother — "You will have to come with us." His mother said she would not allow that. The man then drew a kick at his brother but missed him. At this time witness was sitting on the kitchen table. The other man was standing before witness with a revolver pointing downwards between his legs. The man asked — "Are you the old RIC man?" and he said "Yes." The man repeated the question, and he gave the same answer. The man raised the revolver, placed it on his right thigh, fired, and said — ''Take that." The men left the house immediately. The man who fired the shot said — "When your leg is better clear the country." The man who fired the revolver was not John Keogh. John Downey came in last to the house and it was he who fired the revolver. Mr Bewley — Owing to some confusion this case was brought against the accused with intent to murder and I now WISH TO WITHDRAW THAT CHARGE. Mr Gallagher — That is quite right there is nothing against him for it. Do you withdraw all the charges in this case? Mr Bewley — No. He is charged with the armed raid. We also charge him with conspiracy to injure. The charge was amended to this. Thos Larkin corroborated, and the accused was returned for trial on the amended charge.


A charge of entering the house of John Dillon, Ballinruane, Ahascragh, on the 7th September 1923, and with breaking gramophone records, and firing shots in the house was preferred. John Dillon, Ballinruane, deposed that on the 7th Sept, 1913, be was in bed and was awakened by the noise of shots in the early morning. He heard voices coming to the door demanding to have it opened. They said they were military. He said they were not military and refused to open it. They then pounced against the door and three of them entered. He knew them. Keogh was one of them, and the other two were yet at large. Keogh was the man in the dock. His son, daughter, and workman were with him in the house, but were not with him when the men came in. When the men burst in the door they fired a few shots inside which went into the wall. They wanted him to light a candle and he said he could not get one. They got a light themselves and searched the whole place, Keogh was the principal searcher. Keogh searched the room, and smashed a drawer and some pictures; They took a double-barrelled gun. They didn't succeed as good as they expected. There were records of a gramophone and pictures smashed also. His son made his escape while the search was going on. His daughter remained in the kitchen. After the search he made his escape too (laughter). When he came back they were gone. Returned for trial.


The case against the accused for an alleged armed raid on the house of Thos Kelly, Deerpark, and with the alleged breaking of a window and furniture, and threatening to shoot Kelly with a revolver on the 10th September 1923, was then taken up. Thos Kelly deposed he was an asylum attendant, and lived in Deerpark cottages. On the early morning of the 10th September 1924 he was asleep in bed. He was awakened by the breaking of his windows – large stones were coming in. This was at 3.30 a.m. He heard talking outside his house. He was asked to open the door and his wife opened it. He never left the bed. Two men came into the room. He recognised one of them as John Keogh. The men had two revolvers and one of them said he would shoot witness. All the furniture in the house was broken. While the furniture was being broken in the kitchen Keogh was with him. Keogh was the man who threatened him with the revolver. Keogh then went to the kitchen. Keogh didn't leave a hand on anything, the other man broke the furniture. Accused — Why were you threatened with a revolver ?Witness — I don’t know why. Accused — Was it not for allowing your wife and daughter to act as spies for the Free State on the Republican soldiers? Witness — That’s a lie. Who told you that? Accused — Did you get an order to bed when the revolver was used? Witness — How could I when I was in bed at the time? The answer was greeted with applause and laughter. Mr Gallagher — I will not allow this. This court will not be turned into a pantomime. Let those ladies in the jury box leave the court. The ladies were then removed. Kathleen Kelly, wife of last witness, deposed that she heard knocking at the door on the morning in question. She got up and let two men in. One of them was John Keogh. They men had revolvers. They said nothing to her. They went into the room where her husband was in bed. One returned to the kitchen. One of them went and spoke to her husband but she didn't know what he said. She went to the kitchen after the other man who smashed the furniture and a bicycle. Keogh didn't interfere with the furniture. Keogh was most respectful to her. Keogh came from the bedroom to the kitchen and then they went away. Clerk of Court — Does the prisoner wish to ask any questions? Prisoner — Oh, let her off (laughter).Returned for trial.


Guard Ryan deposed — I was stationed in Ballinasloe on 24th April, 1923. I was then on patrol at Cloneena, Kilconnell. Guard Dempsey was with me on bicycles. About 2.30 in the afternoon I was approached by three armed men. The other Guard was with me at the time. John Keogh was one of the armed party. When we came near them he said — ''I suppose you didn't expect o meet me," The men turned the Guards back and left their bicycles behind in a field. The men then brought us back to Mr Hession's house and told us to strip off. We refused to comply with the order. I said they were mean men to want to strip us and let us back in our skins. I said to them — "If I were armed you would strip me dead." One of the men said — “If you give any more trouble I will plug you and throw you on the road." The men took off our tunics and caps. Keogh said—“For your stiffness I will take your watch and chain" and did so. Keogh tore witness's trousers. The men also took their bicycles. Guard Dempsey got much the same treatment. I said to Keogh — "I did a bit of fighting and I am not afraid to die. I would as soon be shot as stripped. I said to Keogh to shoot me." Keogh said nothing. The armed men then went away and left them stripped with their trousers turned down. Other evidence having been given the accused was returned for trial. This concluded Friday's proceedings, and Mr Gallagher in announcing there was an adjournment until the following morning at 11 o'clock, said that if there was any demonstration in court he would not allow anyone in on the following day.


On Saturday morning Mr Gallagher took up the other case? Guard Ryan deposed he was stationed in Lawrencetown barracks. On the evening of March 20th, 1923 at 7 o’clock he was approached by Jack Keogh two other armed men. The men had revolvers in their hands and told himself and Guard Gleeson get inside the barracks. They went inside and the other men followed. Jack Keogh said — "Our orders are to burn you out, and we will give you a few minutes to gather your private property.'' He said — “What good is that going to do the country." Keogh said he had orders. Keogh then told them to take off their tunics. Guards Devins and Gleeson were there at the time. They refused to take off their uniforms at first, and witness’s tunic was open and Keogh gave it a chuck and pulled it off. The other Guards were forced to take off their tunics. The very moment the Guards went outside the barracks burst into flames. Mr Rigney, who lived next door to the barracks, told him there was a ladder at the lack and he got it out with help, and put it up to the side of the adjoining house to cut the roof and prevent the fire from spreading. There were a number of shots fired at him from a field while he was on the ladder. The men had gone from the premises then. The barracks were totally destroyed. Guard Gleeson gave corroborative evidence, and added that he saw Keogh sprinkle the hall of the barracks with petrol. The man in the dock set fire to it. The men waited for some time add then went away and fired shots. He assisted Guard Ryan in getting a ladder. To Mr Gallagher — The adjoining store was burned as well as the barracks. Uniforms and barracks were absolutely destroyed. Clerk of Court — Any questions by the prisoner? Prisoner — Let him have his fling. Guard Devins was also sworn and gave corroborative evidence. Returned for trial.


Sgt Kelly deposed that on the 9th October 1923, he was returning to Killimore barracks at 1.30 a.m. with Guard Waldron. Two men approached him near the Guards' station and ordered him several limes to halt. He saw two revolvers with them. He halted. One of them spoke to him and asked him who he was. He said be was the Sgt of the Civic Guards. The man struck him a slight blow of the revolver in the face and marched witness to the station. Guard Waldron and the other man came behind. When he got to the station he recognised the man who struck him with the revolver — it was John Keogh. Keogh pointed the revolver at him and he heard an explosion, but, seemingly, it was a blank cartridge. The other man, John Downey, went upstairs. There were only Guard Waldron and himself in it. Keogh was guarding witness and Guard Waldron while Downey was upstairs. Keogh spoke about witness's ill-treatment of Republican prisoners to him. He denied there was any ill-treatment. Keogh referred to a particular man who was fined £2, and demanded this money. He refused to give it. Downey then came downstairs and Keogh went up and remained there about 15 minutes. The men searched his pockets and Guard Waldron's and took some letters and examined them. They said they were giving the last warning and would call back again in a few nights. On the following morning he found a cloth cap, roll-gold chain, and pipe and tobacco pouch, his property, missing. Guard Waldron gave evidence of boxes and suit cases all being opened, and papers and everything strewn about the floor. He missed a pipe of his own. Guard Brennan was brought downstairs by Downey. Brennan was asked by Downey why he didn't open the door when he was asked to. Keogh asked him no questions. Guard Brennan also gave evidence that there was knocking at the Civic Guard barracks on the 9th October. When he asked who was there a voice said — "Republican Soldiers," and if he refused to open the door he would be snot when they got in. He refused to let them in and they broke the door. John Keogh and John Downey then came in. He was struck on the head with a revolver but he could not say which of the men struck him. Returned for trial.


Sgt Kealy deposed he was stationed in Killimore on 18th Oct. He was awakened in the early morning by load knocking at the door. He asked who was there and he got a reply — "The Boys." He went down to the door and opened it and was forced back by Downey and Keogh with revolvers. They said they wanted to speak to him. John Keogh spoke to him and said — "What about the report that appeared in the Connacht Tribune of the previous raid. He told him he was not responsible for the report. Keogh then forced him upstairs. Downey followed. They went into the Guards’ room. Guards McDermott, Waldron and Brennan were there. Keogh asked Guard Waldron what he knew about the report and struck the Guard in the face with his clenched fist. He intervened and said the Guards were not responsible for the report in the ''Tribune." Keogh then struck witness a blow in the side of the face with his fist. He ordered witness to his bedroom to dress and said — '' I'm going to do Noel Lemass on you." He endeavoured to dress in his room but Keogh and Downey followed him there. Keogh struck him several blows about the head and face with his fists. Guard Temple was in room too. Every time he got a blow in the face he was told to put it in the Independent and Connacht Tribune. Keogh then left his room. Keogh went away and came back after 5 or 6 minutes. Keogh was then wearing a trench coat the property of witness. When Keogh came in with the trench coat he pointed a revolver at Guard Temple saying — "You are shot.'' Matthew Hughes then cane in after him. Hughes was the man who was on the threshold of the door while Keogh and Downey were inside. He heard bicycles rattling downstairs and when he went down there were three bicycles missing; they belonged to the Guards. There were two flash lamps and a bicycle lamp taken. Guard Waldron also gave evidence. Guard Temple having given evidence, the prisoner was returned for trial.


Guards Grimes and Bradley gave evidence re the Ahascragh raid and swore to Keogh being there. He was returned for trial.


(In the edition of May 10th, 1924, there is a reference to an armed raid on Jas Fahey’s house at Cloghagalla on April 21st, 1923, and an armed raid on Ballymacward Post Office on 14 September 1923. This makes for 13 charges in total). The proceedings terminated at about 5 o'clock p.m. When the accused was leaving the Court after the trial he was received with cheers by a large crowd outside, one sympathiser shouting — "Keep up your heart, Jack.” He was placed in a waiting motor and conveyed to the Civic Guards' barracks, where he was detained until 8.30. At 8.45 p.m. was placed on the upward train and it is believed his destination was Mountjoy prison.

[Source: East Galway Democrat, Saturday, 10 and 17 May 1924.
Transcribed and submitted by Damian Mac Con Uladh, November 2003]

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