Private William Keays


William Keay was born on 8 April 1901 at Abington, Murroe, County Limerick, the first of eight children of farmer John Keays and his wife Mary Jane (née Powell). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Abington with his parents and two of his siblings.

Keays enlisted in the Royal Irish Regiment at Ennis, County Clare, on 28 September 1917. He gave his age as 18 years 1 month (his true age was sixteen) and his occupation as farmer. He was posted to the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, reporting for duty at Queenstown (Cork) three days later. There he was issued regimental number 4/6717.

From there Keays was to be transferred to the North Irish Horse when he attained the age of 18 years and 8 months. However on 3 October his birth certificate was provided, probably by his parents, proving that he was underage, and on 16 October he was discharged 'having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment, soldier under 17 years of age at date of application for discharge' (paragraph 392(vi)(a), King's Regulations).

By 1926 Keays was living at Elmgrove, Abington, on the family farm. On 1 May that year he married Mary Markeby in the Abington Church of Ireland Parish Church.