January 2012        

Marian Keegan (1932–1972)
Feminist, Marxist, republican


Marian Keegan was a woman who was ahead of her time. Known for her engaging personality, she had a thorough interest in all aspects of culture and a great intellectual curiosity. She admired and studied the works of the great revolutionaries, in particular James Connolly, and believed vehemently in the working-class and socialist struggle.
     Marian Keegan was in Paris during the student protest of May 1968 and the general strike; this event was to change her life for ever. She would go on to work with the socialist movement internationally and in Ireland, first with the Young Socialists and Saor Éire and later becoming secretary to Bernadette Devlin MP. She also took part in the infamous civil rights march from Belfast to Derry in 1969.
     She was appointed by the Fourth International United Secretariat to oversee the founding of an Irish section. However, not long afterwards Marian died from cancer, on 9 January 1972. She had celebrated her thirty-ninth birthday on 8 December 1971.
     Shots were fired in salute over the coffin at the removal on a wet winter evening, and the funeral saw hundreds of police surround the graveside at the burial in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin. Several hundred communists and republicans, including Bernadette Devlin, marched in the cortege to the cemetery. The Tricolour and the Plough and the Stars were carried before the coffin, accompanied by a guard of honour.
     The oration was given by Rayner O’Connor Lysaght. He remarked that Keegan was a revolutionary who combined activism with diligent political analysis. She had been on the executive of Saor Éire and had been appointed the representative of the Fourth International in Ireland after the assassination of Peter Graham.
     Several verses of “The International” were sung, and the clenched fist salute was given. The 9th of January 2012 was the fortieth anniversary of her death.
[MH]

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