Local Faces: Rose Cooney

By Hayden Moore

COMMUNITY activism has been a large part of Tallaght since its foundations and one woman, Rose Cooney, exemplifies what it means to fight for what she believes in.

Rose is a fighter. If you are a group or community heading into the colosseum of politics to take on authorities in calling for a transformation of policies, practices or new amenities, Mrs Cooney is someone you want in your corner.

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Kingswood community activist and old fashioned pram lover Rose Cooney

The 69-year-old loves nothing more than to take a challenge head on.

“If he think’s he’s going to get the better of me, which he rarely does, he’ll just cut me off,” Rose says answering the phone.

Asked who she is talking about, she responds: “Ah, I would talk to Joe the odd time.

By “talk to Joe”, Rose elaborates that she calls Joe Duffy on RTE’s Liveline programme from time to time.

If she’s not on air giving the presenter a run for his money, the Kingswood resident is listening in as the discussions tumble through the radio.

“I have an Echo from the time we marched up to the Foxes Covert, the pub in Tallaght Village there, around 1986, ’87,” she recalls.

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Rose Cooney

“We were looking for a secondary school here [in Kingswood] at the time and look here we are, what’s it 34 years later, and we finally have a school.”

The grandmother has a deep-rooted love for her community - the community which she has called home since 1977.

Despite the initial shock of “living with the cows in the middle of bleedin’ nowhere” before the surrounding area was built up, Kingswood has become part of her identity.

So much so that after meeting a young man called Des in Sloopy’s on Fleet Street and dating him for a while, the couple wed in the community centre in Kingwood in 1980.

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Rose Cooney

Involved in the Summer Projects throughout the 1980s, Rose is a member of the Kingswood Heights Residents Association and helped set up Foróige in the area, a youth club aimed at creating a safe environment for people to socialise.

With her 70th birthday coming up, the mother of five was eager to emphasise the important role that communities and role models in communities play in children’s lives.

“It’s very important to be involved in the community, and it’s even more important for young people to be,” she explains.

“When they’re growing up, parents need to be involved in the community, that way the kids learn from seeing what their parents are doing.

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Rose Cooney was part of a group who marched up to Molloys Pub, The Foxes Covert, Tallaght Village, circa 1986, ’87, looking for a secondary school for Kingswood

“To be involved in a community is special, it gives people somewhere to feel comfortable, a place to hang out and create something to look forward to.”

After contracting Covid-19 at the onset of the pandemic in Ireland last year, Rose was hospitalised for a brief period before being discharge to continue her recovery at home.

“I got Covid in March last year, that’s why my voice sounds like this,” she explains, with a slight rasp in her voice.

“My neighbours are so good to me, the whole community really were very good looking after me. I had the pains in my chest with my lungs and the stabbing in the legs, it effected me right through to my bones.”

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Rose Cooney

Still battling with some side-effects today, Rose is scrapping her way through recovery.

Rose has become quite recognisable through the eye-catching pram she brings around with her.

Rose has a love for prams and is particularly drawn to old fashioned traditional models, with one of them even starring on the silver screen in the film, My Left Foot.

“I have an old pram from 1922. When they made that film about Christy Brown, the pram was in the film.

“There’s a part in it when they’re shovelling coal into the pram and they walk around the corner with it full of coal - that’s my pram.

“It was passed down to me, my husbands granny had the pram and I lent it to the film when they were filming.

“I do go up to Grafton Street with the pram and I have people stopping me, grown men, saying ‘wow’ at it.”


Throughout each aspect of Rose’s life, her tenacity is something that is glaringly apparent and, out of necessity, is something that she has cultivated since childhood.

“I didn’t have an easy upbringing, you could say I didn’t really have a childhood.

“That’s why I’ll always say give a child some of your time because all they want is attention.

“Time is precious and I’ll always have time to give to young children.

“I’m not afraid to interact with homeless people either.

“I always carry a bum bag with me with only a certain amount of money in it when I go into town.

“When I meet the first person, I’ll sit down with them so that I’m on the same level as them and talk to them because they’re not all only looking for a fix.

“I’m not any better than anyone and I don’t judge anyone.

“I don’t judge anyone because I was judged all my life, and you don’t know what people have gone through or are going through.

“That’s why I’ll always root for the underdog.”

When Rose moved out to Kingswood, she was a single parent and highlighted the stigma around that at the time when talking to The Echo.

As a means of dealing with her mental health struggles, Rose found solace in alcohol and soon developed a dependancy.

Now 33 years sober, the Cabra native tells a story of her battle with alcoholism to youths in the area as a precautionary tale.

“I have turned my life around,” Rose says.

“I talk to them in the clubs because it’s what happened to me, it could happen to anyone and if they can learn something then great.

“I would be drinking flagons of cider in fields and I can say that I was an alcoholic by the time I was 22.

“I was 38 when I stopped. I had to protect what I had.

“My sons went to school in Presentation in Terenure, and one day, one of my sons, through his leg over his bike and he looked back at me.

“He says to me, ‘mam I’m not coming back if you don’t stop’ - that’s how bad it got.

“33 years off it now. I’m a mother of five, I have loads of grandchildren and I absolutely adore them.”

Rose’s schedule is jam-packed today, looking after four of her grandchildren three days a week and starting most days off with a litter pick of the area.

In between taking care of her grandchildren, Rose loves an odd natter and a dance.

Each year, she helps organise the Christmas fundraiser in Kingswood and is still flying high after they raised €2,090 for the community last time around.

Recently, Rose has come to the end of her time in mental health services and believes counselling is something people should consider.

“I still deal with the whole mental health thing, Noel Dillon in primary care is absolutely brilliant.

“I finished about a month ago because one day I got my counselling session and as I was going in, a family were coming out.

“It was a mother and father, and their grown son. They all looked very upset coming out and it got me thinking that, Jesus, they could have had another hour.

“This is how bad the mental health services have got and needs to change.

“So I wrote a letter to Noel.

“I just said ‘Dear Noel, I have come to an end with this. There are people out there a lot worse off than me. Maybe that family could have done with an extra hour’.

“He read the letter and he looks over the mask at me and says ‘just like that?’.

“I told him ‘yeah, just like that, I’m ready to meet the big bad world again’.

“I am ready. I am ready.”

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