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Husband pays tribute to ‘determined and warm-hearted’ Keelin Shanley at funeral

The 51-year-old broadcaster died at her home on Saturday following an illness.

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The order of service for the funeral of journalist and broadcaster Keelin Shanley (Brian Lawless/PA)

The order of service for the funeral of journalist and broadcaster Keelin Shanley (Brian Lawless/PA)

The order of service for the funeral of journalist and broadcaster Keelin Shanley (Brian Lawless/PA)

The husband of the late RTE journalist and broadcaster Keelin Shanley has told her funeral that she was a determined and warm-hearted person who loved getting stories out of people.

Conor Ferguson said she was very “dogged” in her work and that she was a humble spirit who loved listening to people.

The 51-year-old broadcaster died at her home on Saturday following an illness.

Among those attending her funeral in Dublin was President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, as well as her colleagues at RTE.

The humanist funeral service took place at St Paul’s Church, Glenageary.

Keelin Shanley funeral
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins leave the church following the funeral of Keelin Shanley (Brian Lawless/PA)

Also attending the funeral were RTE director-general Dee Forbes and managing director of news and current affairs Jon Williams, as well as government ministers Paschal Donohoe and Katherine Zappone.

Broadcasters Ryan Tubridy, Miriam O’Callaghan and Des Cahill also attended.

The award-winning journalist had worked across a wide array of RTE news and current affairs programmes, including flagship shows Prime Time and Morning Ireland.

She presented Morning Edition for two years before returning to radio, and taking over as co-anchor on the Six One news on RTE One with Caitriona Perry – the first time two women have done so.

In a moving 30-minute eulogy, her husband said: “She was humble, she was very dogged and determined in her work to do her best and she knew how good she could be but she was a humble spirit and she was shy.

She was charming, warm-hearted, whip-smart, she was always on the ball and incredibly curious and a little bit bossy and stubbornConor Ferguson

“She loved listening to people and meeting people and getting stories out of people.

“She liked to elicit stories from people and in doing so, she engendered so much love and appreciation for that because people felt they could talk to her and felt she was listening and she knew how to ask the right questions and how to walk the line between getting the person to tell the difficult story and not exploiting them.

“She was charming, warm-hearted, whip-smart, she was always on the ball and incredibly curious and a little bit bossy and stubborn.

“She was so loving to all of us and to her family. We were lucky to have her.”

In his tribute, Keelin’s brother Eoin said she filled the role of big sister “admirably and with gusto”.

“She was a huge influence on us,” he added.

“She had an endless curiosity and desire to learn and read everything she could find.

“She had an amazing can-do attitude and would go out of her way if you decided you want to do something.

Keelin Shanley funeral
The coffin is removed from the church following the funeral of Keelin Shanley (Brian Lawless/PA)

“She was very proud of us all and I think she had more belief in us than we had in ourselves and was always encouraging us to go the extra mile.

“She had a fantastic sense of fun and a very dark sense of humour. She was our influencer, she was unquestionably the boss and she was our mentor.

“A bright, bossy and funny light has gone.”

Her two children Ben and Lucy presented a golden rabbit ornament and a swimming cap to represent her.

Irish musician Liam O Maonlai performed This Is The Sea by the Waterboys.

Friend and work colleague Niamh O’Connor said: “She was an unbelievable workforce, she was fearless, but most of all she was simply great fun to work with.

“With Keelin you had to work harder than you have before and you found yourself doing things you didn’t really expect to do when you got up that morning.

“Few dug deeper into Irish life to find the people who needed to be given a voice and the stories that needed to be told. Keelin went time and time again to the margins of society.

“Through reports and documentaries on poverty, health, inequality, homelessness, she pioneered a form of social journalism.”

The humanist celebrant, Susie Kennedy, said: “She will be greatly missed in her public role as a journalist of great integrity, energy, professionalism, intelligence and compassion.

“She will also be sorely missed by her family and close friends.

“They will miss her positivity, her zest for living every minute of life to the full.

“Keelin was a woman of enormous humour, intelligence, talent and creativity.”

PA