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Keelin Shanley in the Sunday Independent: 'Courage is the ability to put worry, ego and fear to one side'

Speaking in the Sunday Independent LIFE Magazine in March 2019, RTÉ broadcaster Keelin Shanley, who passed away this afternoon, spoke about the meaning of courage


Journalist and broadcaster Keelin Shanley. Photo: Kip Carroll

Journalist and broadcaster Keelin Shanley. Photo: Kip Carroll


In March 2019, journalist Keelin Shanley was the cover star of the Sunday Independent LIFE magazine.

The RTÉ Six One News anchor passed away peacefully this afternoon, after dealing with cancer for some time.

In her cover story, Ms Shanley spoke alongside female leaders from various walks of life on what courage means to them.


Keelin Shanley

Keelin Shanley

Keelin Shanley

Here is what she wrote:

"Courage is the ability to put worry, ego and fear to one side and push forward to try and bring about change.

It's being able to say, 'What's the worst that can happen?' and facing down the prospect of failure.

Courage is different to resilience, but the two are often confused. Resilience is about being able to deal with adversity, or making the best of something when you have no choice but to put up with it. Courage, to me, is proactive - choosing the tough route, when you also have an easier option. It's the person who intervenes when they see bullying or mistreatment; the person who questions the status quo; who risks their own well-being or comfort to do the right thing.

We've seen huge courage both in Ireland and around the world in recent years, with individuals speaking out about experiences in an effort to change attitudes for those coming behind them. The #MeToo movement and the recent referendums encouraged many people on all sides to speak out, regardless of the personal cost.

Working in journalism over the last three decades, I have met many courageous people. From well-known icons like Malala Yousafzai, to the unsung heroes who tell their stories of homelessness, drug addiction or crime, so we can shine a light on the world we live in.

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People like Maria, a girl I met who was trafficked into Ireland from Romania, and forced to work in a brothel from the age of just 16, until she was deported a few years later. Maria suffered horribly in Ireland. The only people she met were uncaring clients and vicious pimps. Yet, when we went to her home town in Romania, she was able to put the hurt and terror aside to tell the true stories behind the Irish sex industry.

I had an early introduction to professional courage. I worked with Mary Raftery for two years on an arts programme in the 1990s. At the time, she was in the initial stages of making States of Fear. Many of the people she interviewed never expected to be even listened to, let alone believed. But Mary's sense of courage and her zeal for the story helped bring out courage in those she met. That documentary opened the vaults on horrors that many half-knew about, but had dismissed or ignored.

Mary was never what you'd call easy. The great thing about that was she didn't care who she had to cross to get what she believed was right. She was the toughest taskmaster I've ever had. She missed nothing, and after a hard day's filming, there was nothing she loved more than a G&T and another good row. She was bolshy, warm, funny, difficult, and the purest example of courage I've known.

Making a documentary is to walk a fine line. You want people to reveal themselves to you, but you need to ensure they're not paying too high a price. Mary managed to achieve that, and, in doing so, changed so much in Irish society, and inspired a generation of journalists and film makers who are still building on the work she started."

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