Rain-soaked mourners lined the streets of Athy on Wednesday afternoon, July 31, rubbing shoulders with armed gardai, for the funeral of murdered dissident republican Larry Keane.
A piper lead the funeral cortege while ‘comrades’ of the 56 year old father-of-six stepped in time, accompanying his coffin to St Michael’s Church.
The men, who were all dressed in black berets, white shirts, black ties and gloves stood to attention as his coffin, draped in the tricolour, was carried into the church, to ‘Amazing Grace’.
Uniformed gardai backed members of the Armed Support Unit alongside mounted gardai, and they surrounded the church at every entrance.
Black flags were placed on all the lamp posts from Mr Keane’s last residence in Castle Park Estate to the church where he was once baptized.
Parish Priest, Fr Gerard Tanham, asked those present to pray for the murder victim, while a cane, a box of cigarettes and a Kildare flag were chosen as symbols from his life.
“Love your neighbour and your enemy,” said Fr Tanham.
“No two people are the same. We are in charge of our lives and all of Larry’s experiences influenced him. I know from family members Larry had happy times and sad times, and the later stage of his life was not so happy really.”
Mourners heard from family members how Mr Keane had a “heart of gold” but who “might not have been an angel in this life”.
His remains were brought to St Michael’s new cemetery where a strong garda presence was also visible to ensure shots would not be fired at the graveside, as is often customary at paramilitary funerals.
The burial was filmed by members of the Divisional Crime Scene Investigation Unit, while armed gardai surrounded the burial plot to the initial discomfort of the family, who called for more space to let them mourn in peace.
Songs were then sung around the graveside and words were spoken recalling a “Republican idealist” who “followed the flag but did not die in active service”.
Mr Keane was discovered badly beaten at St John’s Lane, Athy, shortly before midnight on Thursday, July 18. He died later at Naas Hospital.
A man was later arrested in connection with the attack, and subsequently released. A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Keane, a former soldier, had served ten years in prison in connection with arms and bomb seizures.