An Cosán co-founder Dr Ann Louise Gilligan dies after short illness

15 Jun 2017

From left: Minister Katherine Zappone with wife and An Cosán co-founder Dr Ann Louise Gilligan in 2014. Image: Katherine Zappone/Flickr

People across Ireland are mourning the death of An Cosán co-founder and civil rights activist Dr Ann Louise Gilligan after a short illness.

Along with her wife – Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, TD – Dr Ann Louise Gilligan formed An Cosán with the intention of running programmes to build up digital skills and confidence, especially among women.

Sadly, Zappone announced this morning (15 June) that Gilligan has died after a short illness, saying in a statement she was “heartbroken” at the loss of her wife and “educator extraordinaire”.

Zappone said: “As co-founder and director of An Cosán, a centre of learning, leadership and enterprise in Jobstown, Tallaght West, Ann Louise demonstrated her commitment and love for the people of Tallaght and the wider communities.

“Her vision was that education transformed poverty, and she believed in the power of imagination to bring about personal and social change.”

‘Her courage inspired us’

“As a champion of equality, fairness and justice, Ann Louise was fearless. Her courage inspired us to make the ultimate commitment with our marriage in British Columbia in 2003.

“The joy of that day was matched for Ann Louise when, after tireless campaigning through the courts, the Oireachtas and, ultimately, on the doorsteps, we helped secure marriage equality for everyone in Ireland,” said Zappone.

She added thanks to the medical team and Prof Joe Harbison at St James’ Hospital for providing “care, comfort and support for which I will be forever grateful”.

An Cosán has also taken to social media to express sadness for the passing of Gilligan, saying that “she will be missed, but forever with us”.

‘Deeply committed to education and equality’

Newly appointed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar offered his condolences to Zappone and her family and friends in a statement.

He said: “I am very saddened to learn of the death of Dr Ann Louise Gilligan. I would like to extend my deepest sympathies, and those of all her government colleagues, to Dr Gilligan’s wife, Minister Katherine Zappone.

“Dr Gilligan was deeply committed to education and equality, and made a lasting contribution to Irish society, in particular as co-founder and director of An Cosán and through her work in campaigning for marriage equality.”

Meanwhile, Senator Lynn Ruane credited Gilligan with contributing greatly to her career, having returned to education through An Cosán as part of a programme for young mothers.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic