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Anastasia Keating
22.

Waterford's Revolutionary Women 1916-1922

22. Anastasia Keating
Anastasia KeatingMain St, Ardmore & "Sunnyside", Ballyragget, Co. Kilkenny. b1901 - d1993

Anastasia Keating was born at Main Street, Ardmore on the 3rd February 1901 the younger sister of John Francis Keating who, later on, in 1937, was briefly to become Adjutant General of the IRA. Their mother was a Foley, of Ardmore, a family fairly closely identified with Fenianism in East Cork over several generations. Her Uncle John "Sonny" Foley was a founder member of the Ardmore Sinn Féin Club and a member of the Waterford Co. Council for a short period until his untimely death.

Anastasia or Anice, as she was usually called, after her family had moved to Co.Kilkenny, still spent all her summers in Ardmore and lived with her aunt Elizabeth, over the Foley shop on Main Street. When "Lizzy" organised a branch of Cumann na mBan, Anice was one of her first recruits. That was in 1917 when Anice was 16 years of age. The Ardmore branch was small in numbers and was attached to the Youghal branch for administrative purposes. In those days the ferry boat from Monatrea put Youghal town within a very much easier reach, on foot, or by bicycle, than Dungarvan. People often went as far as the Ferrypoint by horse & cart or pony & trap or even on horseback, where stabling was available until their return by ferryboat.

Anice became something of a "post woman" between the village and town, cycling to ferry point and taking the ferryboat to Youghal, carrying dispatches concealed within the handlebars tube of her bike. The handgrip was adapted by one of the local Irish Volunteer Company so that it could be slipped on or off with some effort. A Miss Harris of Youghal was the District Officer to whom Ardmore were under command.

Her nerve was really tested when Liam Lynch, wounded at Fermoy and taken immediately to Youghal, was brought to Ardmore on the 8th of Sept 1919.  He was welcomed in to Lizzy Foley's house even though it was located a mere two hundred yards or so from the police barracks.  Here, at the time, were a Sergeant and three constables. The Sergeant's sons and daughters were, in fact, very good friends with Anice and her brothers, growing up and, until that time, there had been no reason for them not to be so.
Now, however, Anice and her friend and comrade in C na mB, Mollie Flynn were sent on lookout duty to keep tabs on the movement of the RIC while Liam Lynch rested , had tea and cake and awaited a motor car to transport him to a Colligan farmhouse, outside Dungarvan.  Ardmore, being the small village that it still is, it is doubtful if the police had to wait much more than a few hours before being informed about the presence of the much wanted man who had been so close. One way or another, Lynch was collected and taken safely away to Dungarvan later the same evening.

As the War of Independence escalated, Anice and her fellow Cumann members were kept busy doing the chores of sewing, mending, laundering, gathering funds, delivering food and luxuries such as cigarettes etc, to the Volunteers  in hiding. All manner of subterfuge had to be employed in order not to flaunt their activities before the populace at large and, of course, the police. Many and varied were the "Ad Hoc"committees formed to keep within the law after Cumann na mBan were proclaimed an Illegal body. Very often the local policy of that force was "what we don't know doesn't trouble us" and although reports to HQ were mandatory and regular, it was not until the introduction of the Black and Tans , after March 1920, that the RIC, in this county, felt under pressure to clamp down on the women's activities.

Anice continued to visit IRA prisoners whom she knew, into the Civil War era and, at its conclusion, felt that she too, along with so many of the Republicans, had little choice but to emigrate. In Sept 1923 she emigrated to the United States, ostensibly on a one year visa to visit her brother in Yonkers city, New York.  She was not long settled there and socialising among the West Waterford emigrants, many of whom were related to her, when she was contacted by some former Volunteers in their efforts to procure employment and lodgings.  Many of these had "jumped the border" as the saying went, from Canada and were illegal immigrants.  However, in those pre-computerised days neither the FBI nor the New York Police had the resources or even, in many cases, the inclination, to pursue them.

Anice's contacts, among the earlier era Irish emigrant families of the Ardmore area, enabled her to help many such men to settle in with good paying jobs. For instance, William Foley, of a Whiting Bay family, had risen to the heights in the Yonkers City Transport Company and provided jobs, in that service, for a number of Anice's friends and acquaintances. Some were also accommodated in the Yonkers City Fire Service which had a Joe Meagher, to whom Anice had connection, as Fire Chief at the time. In this way she felt that she was continuing her support for the men who had risked all for the Independence of their country. This spirit of nationalism never left her even after her marriage in Yonkers in 1931.

Her husband , former Volunteer, Tom Mooney, and she returned to Ireland in 1932 when deValera came to power, hoping that now the Republican ideal would be restored and the final goal of full Independence achieved somehow. They were to be disappointed once again, as were so many others. Anastasia died in 1993 in St Joseph's Hospital, Dungarvan.

Source: Tommy Mooney, 2014

Author: Chrissy O'Connor Knight & Eddie Cantwell

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