Remembering Charlie Kerins
Charlie Keirns was born in Caherina, Tralee, County Kerry on January 23rd, 1918, and attended Balloonagh Mercy Convent School and then the CBS, Edward Street.
At the age of 13, he won a Kerry County Council scholarship and completed his secondary education at the Green Christian Brothers and the Jeffers Institute.
In 1930, Kerins passed the Intermediate Certificate with honours and the matriculation examination to the NUI. He later did a commercial course and took up employment in a radio business in Tralee.
Kerins was also active in the Gaelic Athletic Association and in 1939 won a county medal in football with his local team, O'Rahilly's, now renamed Kerins O'Rahilly's in his honour.
Keirns had very strong Irish Republican beliefs which led him to join the Irish Republican Army in 1940 and was appointed to the GHQ staff in May 1942.
With the outbreak of WW2 in 1939, Eamon De Valera used the outbreak of the war to attack his former comrades in the Republican movement. A state of emergency was declared and repressive legislation called section 30 was introduced.
They introduced coercion under the Emergency Powers Act, raided homes, censored the media and suppressed meetings. They harassed, arrested and interned Republicans without trial in the Curragh Camp.
Non-jury military courts were used to railroad Irish Republicans into Gaol, these emergency powers are still used today against Irish Republicans.
The Garda Special Branch was used to harass and frame Irish Republicans, this led to the Special Branch becoming as hated as the crown forces in the eyes of the IRA and their supporters.
On the morning of September 9th 1942, Detective Sergeant Denis O'Brien was leaving his home in Ballyboden, Dublin. He was between his front gate and his car when he was cut down with Thompson submachine guns.
D.S. O'Brien, an Anti-Treaty veteran of the Irish Civil War, had enlisted in the Garda Síochána in 1933. He was one of the most prominent members of the Special Branch Division, which had its headquarters at Dublin Castle.
Following the arrest of Hugh McAteer in October 1942, Kerins was named Chief of Staff of the IRA. Despite a massive manhunt by Gardaí, Kerins remained at large for two years.
Kerins had previously left papers and guns hidden at Kathleen Farrell's house in the Dublin suburb of Rathmines. He telephoned the house, as he intended to retrieve them.
However, the telephone had been tapped by the Special Branch. On June 15th 1944, Kerins was arrested in an early morning raid by the Gardaí. He was sleeping when they entered his bedroom and did not have an opportunity to reach the Tommy gun which was under his bed.
On October 2nd 1944 Kerins was brought before the non-jury special courts and charged with the shooting at Rathfarnham of Detective Dinny O’Brien. Keirns didn't recognise the courts, but after a six-day "trial" with no evidence produced Keirns was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Despite a very public campaign supported by a number of TDs the Fianna Fáil government of Éamon de Valera refused to issue a reprieve. On December 1st 1944 in Mountjoy Gaol, Kerins was hanged by British chief executioner Albert Pierrepoint, who was employed for the occasion.
Kerins was then buried in the Gaol yard. In September 1948, his remains were exhumed and released to his family. He is buried in the Republican Plot at Rath Cemetery, Tralee, Co Kerry.