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'I had a wonderful life' - broadcaster Keelin laid to rest in moving celebration

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Keelin Shanley's coffin is carried from St Paul's church in Glenageary

Keelin Shanley's coffin is carried from St Paul's church in Glenageary

Keelin Shanley

Keelin Shanley

Keelin Shanley's coffin is carried from St Paul's church in Glenageary

RTE broadcaster Keelin Shanley was fondly remembered yesterday at a hum-anist ceremony in south Dublin that was described as "a celebration of a full life".

The former Six One News anchor died last Saturday at the age of 51 after a battle with cancer, sparking a wave of tributes.

The mum-of-two, from Monkstown, left behind children Lucy (13) and Ben (10), husband Conor Ferguson, her four siblings, dad Derry and stepmum June.

Shortly before she died, she told her brother Eoin she had "had a wonderful life."

Mourners thronged St Paul's church in Glenageary where celebrant Susie Kenn- edy officiated at the ceremony, which saw friends and family members recalling the Keelin they knew and loved.

Among those attending were Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Michael D Higgins, along with many of Keelin's RTE colleagues and friends including Caitriona Perry, Miriam O'Callaghan and Ryan Tubridy.

Devastating

Conor, her husband of nearly 20 years, said hers was a life well-lived and she never showed any self-pity or hopelessness in the face of her devastating diagnosis.

She carried with her a zest for life and indomitable spirit that did not wane, even when her cancer returned for a second time in 2016.

There was also a "really strange and dark irony" that she first received news of her cancer on general election day in 2011, and died peacefully on the day of the general election in 2020.

"She would have smiled at that," Conor said.

He was touched that amid all the chaos of the election results, her friends at RTE still took the time to pay tribute to her.

Keelin never gave up her fight, and a few weeks ago she booked a hotel in Wexford for a family break with the children during next week's mid-term so she could have one final swim in the sea.

It was not to be.

Ever the pragmatist, she duly reminded her husband last Thursday to cancel the holiday booking.

Conor said it had been "a long road with a pretty obvious end to it".

He described cancer as a "strange illness", and while there were lots of setbacks, there were lots of high points too.

He said the family felt lucky to have got extra time with her, and when they went to the US to check out a revolutionary drugs trial they splashed out and decided to fly first-class for the first time.

"We felt like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton," Conor said. "That one last adventure was probably enough for her."

She was a force of nature who felt she had lived a full life, and she was especially proud of their two children, who they had "waited so long for".

Despite Keelin's globe-trotting days in her early youth, she loved home best of all and adored the family's "ramshackle house" in Dun Laoghaire.

Gratified

"The last couple of months she was in bed and would look at the window at this tree outside and watch the seasons changing," Conor said.

"She was wondering which season would be her last? She was gratified to have made it to spring."

Her children carried symbols of Keelin's life, which included a gold statue bunny from Paris, along with a blue swimming hat as she loved swimming.

Music included This Is The Sea, while Perfect Day was the soundtrack as the coffin left the church for cremation in Mount Jerome.