Monday 20 August 2018

'Such a good man, such a legacy' - tributes paid to Dublin Fire Brigade's oldest member, who died aged 101

Harry O'Keeffe has passed away age 101
Harry O'Keeffe has passed away age 101
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

Tributes have been paid to the oldest member of Dublin Fire Brigade, who has passed away aged 101.

Henry (Harry) O'Keeffe was a proud member of DFB and was on-duty during the bombing of North Strand by the Germans in 1941.

Mr O'Keeffe, who was from Donnycarney in Dublin, passed away on Friday at the Sybil Hill Nursing Home.

He predeceased by his wife Teresa and son Tony, he is survived by his daughter, sons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sister, extended family and many friends.

DFB shared the news of his death on Twitter last night, saying: "We're saddened to hear of the passing of Dublin firefighter Henry (Harry) O'Keeffe at the age of 101.

"Harry was on duty during the World War 2 aerial bombings in North Strand."

Social media users paid their respects to Harry, one man said: "So, so sad but bless him. Such a good man. Such a legacy."

Another woman noted: "The greatest generation. Thank you for your service."

Harry O'Keeffe (circled) during his days working with Dublin Fire Brigade
Harry O'Keeffe (circled) during his days working with Dublin Fire Brigade

A third person added: "Rest in peace sir.. Bless and thank you for your years of service with Dublin Fire Department."

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Harry joined DFB in 1938, he was known as a special service man and was stationed in Tara Street Station for much of his career.

He was working when the German military dropped four bombs onto Dublin on May 31 1941, killing 28 people.

Harry's heroic efforts to help others that day were immortalised in Kevin C Kearns' book The Bombing of Dublin’s North Strand: The Untold Story.

Harry's colleague Paddy Walsh said in the book: "This bomb hit the end of a terrace of houses, at the back garden. Made a crater in the garden and the house fell in, but not much fire. They were up-market houses, a place where there was a Jewish settlement.

"A woman was trapped there, in her bed. The roof had collapsed down and the joists were all criss-crossing on the bed.
"Now I was just five foot nine but another lad with me was a hardy fella, Harry O’Keeffe.

"So we got in and everything was in a heap, the front of the house was still intact, but the whole back was down. There was one joist holding most of the roof still on.

"So he got down on his hunker, if you like, and held it. Then he says to me, “I’ll hold that and give you time to get in.'"

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