Leixlip man’s escape from Libya

A Leixlip family was celebrating this week after Anthony Keegan got out of Libya safely in recent days.

A Leixlip family was celebrating this week after Anthony Keegan got out of Libya safely in recent days.

Anthony, who won a Leixlip Civic Award for his business achievements, was working with Mercury Engineering in the Benghazi area when the revolution there broke out.

On Monday evening last, February 28, delighted family and friends greeted him at Dublin airport after his plane landed around 5.30 p.m.

He and others managed to leave the country by boat and took a 24 hour journey to Athens.

But it was a stressful week for his wife, Susan, and family, since they got news of the difficulties on Saturday week last. It was a “very very bad week,” admitted Susan, who served as chairperson of the Leixlip ARCH club for over a decade, told the Leader at their home on Sunday.

As the rest of the country appeared to be counting votes, Susan, who was nominated for civic awards herself, was counting the minutes since she saw her husband.

Mercury was due to leave this Libyan location in March anyway and Anthony, a mechanical engineer, would have been due home then.

He arrived on a Greek ship in Athens at 5 a.m. On Sunday morning after a 23 hour sailing and was met by an Irish ambassador.

Susan said Anthony could hear gunfire from the Mercury compound in Benghazi.

She said Anthony got on well with the Libyan people and like them and was upset by the events.

He was not far from a local graveyard and there were hundreds of funerals on the weekend of 19/20/21 February.

The last time the family saw Anthony was when he left after Christmas on 5 January. It has been a hard year for him, she said. He misses home and Leixlip but, she added, he made many friends there and will find it hard to leave them also. “The Libyans are very nice people,” said Susan.

Anthony was advised by them to stay in the Mercury compound.

She said the company has been very good to Anthony and the other staff.

When the trouble broke during the week, she said, the family got a lot of help from Bernard Durkan TD, who was helpful with international contacts on their behalf. “He didn’t ask me for a vote,” she added.

Susan did comment on the fact that in the UK, the Prime Minister went on the television to talk about the situation in Libya but she did not see anyone doing that here. She was not impressed. “Anthony would not have been there if it was not for the state of the country,” she added.

Susan, who loves her job as a care assistant in St Raphael’s in Celbridge, said that Benghazi was a ten hour drive from Tripoli, the capitol of Libya, and the runway at the airport at Benghazi, had been damaged.

On Sunday, there was a lot of relief when Anthony called in from Athens, which he had reached by ship. He was booked into a very nice Athens hotel.

When Anthony arrived in on Monday evening, after flying via Frankfurt, one surprise waiting for him was the presence of his son, Gary, who had come over from Texas, where he is now living.