Former school teacher Jo inspired so many pupils

By Maurice Garvey

TRIBUTES have been made this week to pioneering former school teacher Jo Keane, who passed away on Sunday.

Ms Keane, a former teacher at Coláiste Chilliain in Clondalkin, was a prominent figure in helping to establish a strong Irish language culture in the area.

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Jo Keane

She was a founding member of Gaelscoil Chluain Dolcain in 1984, hosting the first ever board meeting of the school in her living room in 1984, and was also a founding member of Áras Chrónáin in 1990.

She inspired many pupils by virtue of her advocacy of personal responsibility and environmental issues, issues she was way ahead of the curve on.

Ms Keane passed away peacefully at home in Monastery Walk on Sunday morning with her family around her, including her husband Ted, and their four sons Ruairí, Ultan, Caimin and Donnchadh.

She stayed at home throughout her illness due to Ted’s care, which the family were very grateful for.

The family thanked the Hospice community care team and the care team from Comfort Keepers for their exceptional support throughout.

Caimin, who read the eulogy at Clondalkin Village Parish Church on Tuesday, told The Echo the family were taken aback at the amount of messages they have received.

“A lot of past pupils often said, over the years, that Mam influenced them in a positive way,” he said.

“Mam was passionate about education and interpreted her role as a teacher very broadly. She taught them home making skills, good house routines and other practical skills, educated them on nutrition and biology but her influence went way beyond that.

“Her pupils would come away from school understanding the importance of work ethic, an appreciation of quality ingredients, naturally produced non processed food and an absolute appreciation for the importance of protecting the environment at all times.”

“Mam was recycling before any-one else we knew, and introduced it to the school” said Caimin.

“She was bringing her own shopping bags to Dunnes Stores Kilnamanagh 30 years before that was considered normal. She instituted the ‘Beile’ in Coláiste Chilliain early on in 1990s - the end of year graduation dinner for sixth years. The five star quality dinner had five star production values. It was like a crossover between Adare Manor and the Chelsea Garden show. The message Mam was trying to deliver was – you are worth it.”

The Keane family have a strong connection with Round Tower GAA Club, Caimin is a former senior football player/manager and is still involved with juvenile coaching, while Ultan and Ruairi have also played with the club, the latter for Ted’s team.

Round Tower GAA extended their condolences to the Keane family in a public message.

“The Keane family have been closely associated with Round Tower GAA Club for many years and our thoughts and prayers are with them all at this difficult time. Jo’s family have asked over the coming days, everyone who knew Jo would take some time to light a candle or say a prayer in her memory. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.”

Cllr Eoin Ó Broin (Ind), a former student of Coláiste Chilliain, said Ms Keane was an inspirational figure.

“I watched the eulogy online on the church webcam. It was lovely celebration of her life, raising four sons, supporting the Irish language movement, and teaching home economic skills to thousands of students,” he said.

Caimin said while Ted is very much associated with the Áras, it is “safe to say Mam put her immense energies into that wonderful cause too.”

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