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Who Was Gerald Keogh?

National Identity Under Scrutiny

Irish VolGerald Keoghunteer Gerald Keogh (inset) was gunned down by troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) who were on the roof of Trinity College Dublin during Easter week, 1916.

He was killed at dawn on Anzac Day, the precise moment that these countries cherish to commemorate their own fallen at Gallipoli in 1915, which is often described as the birth of their respective nationhoods.

Given that the 1916 Rising is also considered symbolic of Ireland’s birth pangs into nationhood, Gerald’s death represents a double irony: an accidental clash of potent national symbols, executed through the heroic figures of rebel and digger.

Today, old certainties are being challenged; the very tenets of national “identities” are increasingly subject to scrutiny. In the present quest to find the true meaning of identity, the collision of revered traditions becomes our starting point and the debate is named after Gerald Keogh, the victim of this unintended clash.

The poignancy of Gerald’s death is captured in the song Digger in Dublin (see below) composed by Kevin McCarthy and Geoff McArthur in which Anzac soldier Mick McHugh laments his part in the killing of Gerald.