Ann Louise Gilligan ‘was always thinking of fairness, of love’

Many tributes paid to educationalist, philosopher and activist at her wake in Jobstown


Ann Louise Gilligan was “a beautiful woman inside and out” who touched the lives of everyone who met her, mourners at the wake of the educationalist, philosopher and social activist heard on Friday in An Cosán, the centre of learning, leadership and enterprise which Dr Gilligan had co-founded in Jobstown, west Dublin.

Dr Gilligan, who died on Wednesday following a short illness, was the wife of Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, who was presented with a single red rose on behalf of the many children who had benefited from An Cosán.

The wake was attended by Ms Zappone’s Cabinet colleagues, Minister for Education Richard Bruton and Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, along with former Progressive Democrats leader Mary Harney.

But the great majority of those present were there due to their involvement with the work Dr Gilligan carried out over many years at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and at Dublin City University, as well as with community initiatives across Dublin.

Róisín Meets: Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan

Hundreds of people filled the centre’s garden outside the room where friends, colleagues and family members stood beside the open casket to pay tribute and remember Dr Gilligan’s role in their lives as a mentor and source of emotional support and strength. Many cried as the CEO of An Cosán, Maura McMahon, welcomed Dr Gilligan to the place “where she was so dearly loved”.

“She was always thinking of everyone else, of fairness, of love,” said Anna Durkan, the chair of An Cosán, who described Dr Gilligan as a champion of education, of human rights, of social justice and a woman before her time.

Senator Lynn Ruane spoke of everything An Cosán meant to her, the life it had given her and “the generational change which Ann Louise has created in my life and my children’s lives”.

She said she hoped that would in turn affect everyone she meets. She also said that, as a recent graduate of philosophy, she felt she would continue to be her pupil. She had received a gift of some money a while ago from Ann Louise, and there was warm applause when she said she would be using that money to buy her cap and gown for her graduation.

Other friends recalled Dr Gilligan and Ms Zappone’s early years together at Boston College in the early 1980s, and how they had set up the educational resource, The Shanty, in south-west Dublin some years later, which would eventually grow into An Cosán. “It’s a privilege to be able to say you are a wonderful woman, because you said it to so many people,” said Imelda Hanratty.

Moon River, You Raise Me Up and The Lark in the Clear Air were played during the formal ceremony, which concluded with mourners singing The Wind Beneath My Wings, after which many more friends and colleagues took the microphone to pay their own personal tributes.

Dr Gilligan’s funeral will take place at 11.30am on Saturday at the Helix, DCU, with burial afterwards at Manor Kilbride Cemetery.