Farewell to Phil

STTCA were saddened to learn of the untimely death of Phil Keogan on September 13 last, a dear friend and a STTCA Committee member. Phil brought a wealth of knowledge to STTCA as our Biodiversity Officer over the last number of years. She was instrumental in the winning of a Special Judges Award in the Dublin City Council’s Neighbourhoods Competition in 2019 in the local Star of the Sea Boys’ National School, Sandymount. There Phil created a learning situation where her special ability as an Educator was imparting information on a conchology (study of sea shells) assignment in a simple and ‘hands-on’ way to the boys in 3rd Class of 29 children over an eight week period. For this project, she tediously collected all the different varieties of shells from Sandymount beach, washed and sterilized them, and had a basket for each student in the class making them aware of the sea life residing on the coastline of Sandymount. She became known as the “shell lady.” Together with Vincent Ryan, they also undertook to provide a planter box for the growth of nine varieties of herbs and bee friendly shrubs, and she donated two plum trees germinated from seedlings from her own garden! The purpose of this initiative was to instruct the young boys on how delicately balanced our ecosystem is, and what they can do to help avoid the many causes that are contributing to Global Warming. STTCA’s educational initiative extended to a two-hour lecture in Margaret holme Sheltered Housing on the sea shells and a similar planter box was installed and filled for the residents. As well as donating another plum tree, Phil brought along a pot of home-made plum jam for the afternoon tea!
A native of Canada, Phil was married to the late Donald Keogan from Dublin. She was qualified in Entomology (the study of insects) with a special interest in butterflies. She would regularly collect eggs and caterpillars to raise into butterflies, and took such joy from watching the process and sharing it with others. Her fascination with amphibians led her to find female frogs laying spawn, which she then nurtured in her garden pond. In fact, one of her last projects for STTCA was her involvement with fellow STTCA colleague Ros Moran, together with teachers and students of the Shellybanks Educate Together National School relating to frog spawn, but unfortunately the project never reached fruition because of the school closure due to Covid-19. Phil raised the biodiversity/sustainability knowledge of STTCA with her in-depth knowledge of shrubs, flowers, bees, etc. In 2020 she assisted greatly in a Sustainability Project of saving begonia bulbs which were removed from the centre bed in The Green at the end of summer, drying them out in her attic and frequently spraying them with water, ahead of them being replanted the following summer season. Again these efforts helped Sandymount gain extra points in the National Tidy Towns Competition under the challenging category of “Sustainability – doing more with less.”
Phil of course had many strings to her bow; involved in a local walking group and a loyal volunteer in the Star of the Sea Parish Church, where Fr John spoke so eloquently at her funeral about her. She had a deep faith and created and organized banners in the Church for the different liturgical events. It was poignant to see several bees landing on her floral wreath at her graveside – “bee friendly.” That would certainly have given her a laugh!
Phil was inspirational and bore her illness with great fortitude and dignity and appreciated the great help and comfort of her neighbours in Park Lane at this time, with particular mention to Sheila and Syl Mooney. In between treatments, Phil would bounce back with a pep in her step and a smile on her face saying: “hey, I’m living with cancer, not dying from it.” Unfortunately her battle ended on September 13, 2021, dying in the comfort of her home surrounded by her three daughters Katharine, Clara and Chloe. STTCA extends their sincere sympathies to them, to her sons-in-law along with her two sisters and two brothers. Phil will be remembered with affection, gratitude and enduring respect by the people of Sandymount and especially by the members of the STTCA.

May she now rest in peace.