independent

Friday 20 September 2019

'She always had a smile on her face and everyone adored her'

The late Phil Keeling.
The late Phil Keeling.

Maria Pepper

Wexford has been deeply saddened by the death of former Wexford Festival Opera administrator Phil Keeling of Highfields who passed away last weekend after bravely battling illness for the past year.

Phil who was 62 years old, worked for many years from the mid-1980's as a member of the staff of Festival Opera and was also a former Marketing Executive with County Wexford Tourism.

Her funeral Mass will take place in the Church of the Assumption, Bride Street today (Tuesday) at 12 noon followed by burial in St. Ibar's Cemetery, Crosstown.

A daughter of the late Tom and Phyllis Keeling, Phil is survived by her partner Davy Lynch; her daughter Rebecca; her siblings Ger, Mary Anne, Joe, Michael and Margaret; her grandchildren Isaac, Annie and Ethan; her son-on-law Abraham (Fish); Davy's daughter Kelly-Ann; by her brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, her nieces and nephews and by her extended family and many friends.

Phil was associated with the Opera Festival from the mid-1980's up to the mid-2000's, working closely for most of that time with the late Chief Executive Jerome Hynes who sadly died in 2005, being involved in the day to day running of the Festival and the former Theatre Royal.

'No matter what was thrown at her, she dealt with it', said Wexford Festival Opera chairman Ger Lawlor who said everyone in the festival and the National Opera House was deeply saddened by her passing and extended their sympathy to Davy, Rebecca and the Keeling family.

Phil worked as part of a small hard-working team under a succession of festival chairpersons including the late Jim Golden, the late Barbara Wallace and Ted Howlin, and played a key organisational role in the international opera event and the theatre itself, from organising artists' transport to booking performances. and liaising with local drama and music groups.

When a flock of starlings, frightened by the fireworks, made their way into the Theatre Royal one opening night and started flying above the stage, it was Phil who handled the pandemonium that ensued and ensured that the show went on.

'She just dealt with whatever came along, she always had a smile on her face and everyone adored her', said Mr. Lawlor.

Wexford Light Opera Society extended its heartfelt condolences to Phil's family and friends, describing her as a great supporter of the organisation from her days as administrator with the Theatre Royal.

'Phil attended all our shows and was always there with words of encouragement and praise. We offer our sympathies to her partner Davy, who was a member of WLOS for many years, and her daughter Rebecca, who is an integral part of our award-winning make-up team'.

Following her time with the Opera Festival, Phil worked for a number of years as Marketing Executive with County Wexford Tourism. ably promoting the county as an attractive destination for tourists from Ireland and abroad.

As a family woman, Phil was devoted to her daughter Rebecca and her beloved grandchildren Isaac, Annie and Ethan, being closely involved in their lives on a daily basis as a very proud grandmother. 'Everytime they laughed or cried, twisted or turned, we all heard about it,' said a friend.

After she retired, Phil volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, visiting patients in the Farnogue Residential Health Care Unit and in her spare time she loved doing crosswords.

Her passing is mourned by her heartbroken family and a large circle of friends and former colleagues.

Wexford People

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