Fergal was born in London in 1961 but was brought up and educated in Ireland. He began his career in journalism in 1979 as a reporter on the Limerick Leader and Chronicle, before moving to the national daily newspaper, The Irish Press.
His first taste of broadcasting was with Radio and Television Eire, where he was a reporter/presenter from 1984 to 1987, later reporting from Belfast for the station. Fergal joined the BBC in 1989 as Northern Ireland Correspondent.
In August 1990, he was appointed Southern Africa Correspondent, after having covered the regions during the early 1980's. It is probably with this region that he is most strongly associated. Fergal’s reports covered the township unrest in South Africa, Mandela's increasing popularity and the first multi-racial elections following the end of apartheid.
During this time he travelled the length and breadth of the country from the white farms of the Northern Transvaal to the vast townships of the Witwatersand. From this experience he wrote a book 'The Bondage of Fear' (Penguin Books, 1995) primarily about the experience of ordinary South Africans as history propelled them towards a new uncharted country.
Other books by Fergal include: 'There Will Be Sunlight Later - A Memoir Of War', 'A Strangers Eye', 'Letters Home', 'Letter To Daniel' and 'Season Of Blood'.
As Southern Africa correspondent he also covered the civil war in Rwanda."I had seen war before, I had seen the face of cruelty, but Rwanda belonged in a nightmare zone where my capacity to understand, much less rationalise, was overwhelmed".
In 1995, Fergal became the BBC's Asia correspondent, covering all the main stories in the region; from the Tokyo gas attacks in January of that year until the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule on July 1st 1997.
Fergal is a weekly columnist with the Independent newspaper and a columnist with 'Traveller' magazine. He also writes occasionally for the Spectator.
Fergal Keane has won numerous awards for his radio and television reports including: an OBE for work in Africa (1996); Royal Television Society Journalist of the Year; BAFTA; Sony Radio Reporter of the Year; Voice of the Viewer and Listener Award; George Orwell Prize; Bayeaux Prize for War Correspondents; Edward R Murrow Award for War Reporting; Human Rights Journalist of the year, Amnesty International; One World Media Award; Index on Censorship Award for Outstanding Commitment to Journalistic Integrity. Honorary Doctor of Letters, Strathclyde University; Honorary Doctor of Letters, Staffordshire University.
Fergal belongs to a well-known Irish literary and theatrical family and his hobbies include theatre, poetry and traditional Irish music which he plays.