It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of one of the founding members of the Association of Irish Riding Clubs.
Joan was someone who led by example, she inspired many, many people in Irish equestrian sport with her vision of the future, integrity, empathy, dedication, and hard work. Joan leaves a lasting legacy of excellence and achievement.
Joan played a pivotal role in Irish Equestrianism throughout the years and was a founder and former chairperson of Dressage Ireland.
The former Foxborough Riding Club member received the Associations Lancelot Award in 2013 for her contribution to the Irish Sport Horse Industry.
Born in Dublin, Joan Donohoe lived in Leeson Park Avenue until her father bought Stepaside Stables in 1953.
Joan married Michael Keogh in 1960 and seven years later, and with five children in tow, the couple moved to Spruce Lodge, Kilternan, County Dublin. She passed her BHSAI examination at Burton Hall in the early 1970s and started giving lessons in Spruce Lodge.
At the same time Joan travelled with Helen Mangan to visit the British Horse Society in Stoneleigh to seek permission to set up the Association of Irish Riding Clubs structure to mirror theirs. Fortunately, they gave their blessing and the AIRC was born.
Joan’s initial involvement with then Irish Horse Trials and Dressage Society (now Eventing Ireland) was through her youngest child Aidan competing at events. In 1983 Joan wrote to the IHTDS suggesting that she would provide a dressage bursary for children to promote the sport in Ireland. She was soon co-opted onto their sub-committee to promote children’s dressage, serving under the indomitable Pam Stokes.
Two years later, Joan became the chairman of the sub-committee. That would lead to the formation of the Irish Dressage Society in 1989. Its name was changed to Dressage Ireland in the mid-nineties.
Joan was also involved with William Micklem and Gerry Mullins in the development of the Introductory Level One and Level Two equestrian coaching syllabi which went on to be adopted by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) and were subsequently delivered worldwide.
Having moved from Kilternan to Ballyrogan Stud in County Wicklow in 2009, Joan opened her new training and equestrian facility at Spruce Lodge.
Joan had a positive outlook on life. In 2009 she said “We are all learning from each other and there is much we can learn from other sports. We need to be open to new thinking and generous of spirit in our vision.”
Joan Keogh, a woman of vision with the track record to prove it.
Deepest sympathies to the Keogh family following the sad passing of Joan.
(Image: Joan Keogh receiving the Lancelot Award from Tony Ennis in February 2014.)