Keane was educated at Blackrock College, Dublin, and graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) in 1953 with a BA in Modern History. He was called to the Bar in 1954 and became a Senior Counsel in 1970. He was appointed as a Judge of the High Court in July, 1979. He was head of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Stardust fire in 1981, and chairman of the Law Reform Commission from 1987 to 1992. He has published many legal texts and papers, and participated in Council of Europe programmes developing legal systems in Post-Communist Europe. He was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1996, becoming Chief Justice in 2000. Chief Justice Keane received an Honorary Doctorate from UCD in 2001, and has been an Adjunct Professor at Trinity College Dublin since his retirement.
In 1962 Keane married Therese O'Donnell, who, as Terry Keane, became a fashion journalist and later a social diarist. They had three children together, and later became close to the daughter Terry had previously given up for adoption. The couple separated in the 1980s but remained amicable. Their son Tim died suddenly in 2004. In 1999 Terry revealed on The Late Late Show her affair beginning in 1972 with sometime Taoiseach Charles Haughey. Ronan and Terry's daughter Justine Keane is married to Diarmuid Gavin, the Irish garden designer and television personality.
- "Fellows and Scholars 2007: Ronan Keane (Hon. Mr Justice)". Trinity College Dublin. 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- "UCD News" (PDF). UCD. Autumn–Winter 2001. p. 12. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- "Diarist who later regretted her TV revelation of affair". The Irish Times. 2008-06-07. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- Mallon, Charles; Jim Cusack (2004-07-11). "Son of Chief Justice and Terry Keane found dead in flat". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- Rules of racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules (PDF) (Amendments & alternations up to and including 27 March 2008 ed.). Curragh, County Kildare: Irish Turf Club and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. p. 5. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- Keane, Ronan (1982). Law of Local Government in the Republic of Ireland. Law Society of Ireland. ISBN 0-902027-21-2.
- Keane, Ronan (1988). Equity and the Laws of Trusts in the Republic of Ireland. Butterworths. ISBN 0-406-10270-8.
- Keane, Ronan (2007). Company Law in the Republic of Ireland (4th ed.). Tottel. ISBN 1-84592-298-0.
- Keane, Ronan (2011). Equity and the Law of Trusts in Ireland. Bloomsbury.
- Judges as lawmakers – the Irish experience Address to NUI, Galway Law Society on 1 October 2003
- 30 years of Law Reform 1975–2005 Lecture To Mark the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Law Reform Commission At Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, Dublin 23 June 2005
|Chief Justice of Ireland
John L. Murray