Hibernia : Those We Lost

By Ian Worpole

Tom Murphy 1968-2007

Actor Tom Murphy died on October 6 of lymphatic cancer. The Dublin native had a distinguished career both on stage and on the big screen. He was best known stateside for his 1998 Tony-award-winning portrayal of Ray Dooley in Martin McDonagh's Beauty Queen of Leenane.

Murphy infamously used the Irish curse word "feck" twice in his acceptance speech for his Best Performance by a Featured Actor award, but he was not cut off as the CBS censor was not familiar with the swear word.

Murphy also appeared in several Irish movies during his career such as Intermission, Michael Collins, The General and Man About Dog. He was lauded for his portrayal of a hopeless junkie in 2004's Adam and Paul, a bleak portrayal of two heroin addicts in Dublin.

News of his death was greeted with shock and sadness by many of those he worked with. "All of us in Druid are

terribly saddened by the premature death of Tom Murphy," said Garry Hynes, artistic director of the Druid Theatre. He was 39 years old.

Tony Ryan 1936-2007

Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair, one of Europe's leading airlines, died on October 3 in his home in County Kildare after an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Ryan was considered a pioneer in finance and travel, and was the seventh richest man in Ireland, with an estimated fortune of two billion euros.

Born in 1936, Ryan spent his career working for private and commercial airlines. He joined Aer Lingus in 1956 and quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder. Ryan believed that simplicity was the key to any successful business. He followed this motto in 1975 when he founded Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA), a successful organization that leased underused aircrafts to other airline carriers.

Ryan used the same motto when he founded Ryanair in 1986, with a single fifteen-passenger aircraft flight from Dublin to London. The goal was to create a low-cost no-frills way to travel, and today the airline travels 500 routes to 26 countries, while still maintaining its stance as the most affordable airline in Europe.

Ever the entrepreneur, Ryan was an art collector, owned a stud ranch in Kentucky, a vineyard in Bordeaux, and in 2005 donated 10 million euros to found a new business school in Dublin. Although he referred to himself as "just a Tipperary farmer" he spent most of his time in Monte Carlo for tax reasons. He is survived by his wife Mairead and their three sons.

Death of Ireland's Last Independence War Veteran

Dan Keating 1902-2007

On October 4 the world lost Dan Keating, the last surviving veteran of Ireland's 1919-21 War of Independence. The 105-year-old member of the Irish Republican Army died in County Kerry.

At the age of seventeen, Keating joined the First Kerry Brigade of the Irish Republican Army in 1920. He took part in two major 1921 attacks on British auxiliaries (Black and Tans) at Castlemaine and Castleisland where up to twelve Black and Tans were killed. The ambush also resulted in the deaths of at least five police officers and five IRA members.

In Ireland's Civil War (1922-3) Keating fought against former colleagues as a member of the IRA faction that opposed the 1921 peace treaty with Britain. He was eventually captured by the Irish Free State forces and spent seven months in a prisoner of war camp.

He served several short terms in prison for insurrectionary activity, including an aborted assassination attempt of a former general of Free State forces. Keating took part in an IRA bombing campaign against London in 1939-40.

Dan Keating was a staunch believer that Ireland could not be at peace until the border dividing the Republic of Ireland from the North was eliminated. He maintained his position of hard-line Republicanism until the end. As a member of the Provisional IRA, Keating spent 27 years trying to overthrow British rule.

Even after the Provisional IRA's 1997 cease-fire agreement and decision to support Sinn Fin to push for a negotiated deal, Keating switched allegiance to a breakaway faction that supported continued bombings. Denouncing the past 15 years of peacemaking efforts as "a joke," Keating made one of his last appearances in a 2007 newspaper ad appealing to Sinn Fin not to begin cooperating with the police in Northern Ireland.

Dan Keating had no immediate survivors. His death, at the nursing home where he spent his last years, was confirmed.