By Charlie Keegan
THE communities of Graiguecullen and Carlow were united in mourning the recent passing at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny of Hugh Francis ‘Duxie’ Keating, New Oak Estate, Carlow. He died on Monday 10 January, having been admitted to hospital less than 24 hours previously. Duxie was surrounded by his loving family and the Rosary was being recited when he slipped away peacefully.
A native of St Fiacc’s Terrace, Graiguecullen, Duxie was born on 2 April 1938, the eldest of seven sisters, six of whom survive him. He was son of Hugh, also nicknamed Duxie, and Mary (née Scully) Keating.
Known to many as Francis or Mr Keating and the less formal and affectionate Duxie when in his Graiguecullen heartland, Duxie worked for a number of years with Corcoran’s Mineral Waters, delivering to the pubs. But he spent the greater part of his working life as a technician with the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, now Bord Telecom.
He was a friend of the late Ray Conlon, owner of the Seven Oaks Hotel, and acted as a bouncer at Mimes Niteclub at the hotel for some time. He also worked as a bartender in The Thatch public house, Graiguecullen.
In his young days, Duxie played at half-back for the Graiguecullen senior footballers. He was a talented footballer, who was selected at minor level for Laois. It was felt that he gave up the game too young. For the remainder of his life, Duxie remained a staunch Graiguecullen GAA man. He was father of Anthony ‘Muckle’ Keating, the wily goal-scoring Éire Óg and Carlow football forward of the 1990s, but loyalties to the blue and white of Laois never wavered.
Duxie maintained his deep sense of independence, living independently in New Oak Estate following the death of his beloved wife Hannah (née Hayden) in September 1998 at the age of 54. Duxie devoted himself totally to the care of Hannah during her illness.
He and Hannah had married on 4 April 1967 in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Arles, going on to have a family of eight children, all of whom he was very proud. Indeed, family meant everything to Duxie. He greatly cherished all of his 16 grandchildren and was a great influence on their spiritual journeys. He would have been exceptionally proud of Abbie, Aoife and Shane, three of his grandchildren, who were eucharistic ministers at his funeral ceremony.
Duxie applauded the sporting efforts of his children and grandchildren. He attended many award ceremonies, especially in the sports of rowing and GAA.
A spiritual man, Duxie’s annual holiday up to recent years was traveling to Lourdes as part of the Graiguecullen pilgrimage to the French shrine, organized first by the late Gerry and Alice Bradley of The Thatch public house. Ursula Hayden, their daughter and Duxie’s goddaughter, has now taken up organizing those Lourdes trips. For many years, Duxie was a helper at Lourdes. He was a very kind and generous man and he always brought home holy water, candles and prayers to many of his friends and neighbours. He provided much laughter for those on the pilgrimage each year and he had made plans to go to Lourdes this year, but it wasn’t to be.
He attended Saturday evening Mass in St Clare’s Church, Graiguecullen and would then go to The Thatch for a game of cards with his friends. He had a keen interest in horse racing and enjoyed a recent trip to the National Stud. Some of his other interests included reading and gardening, and he supported Manchester United.
He had also kept up to date with the ever-changing trends in modern technology, learning how to access YouTube and other online platforms.
There was a private wake for the Keating family at New Oak Estate on Monday 10 January, following which he rested in Carpenter’s Funeral Home, Graiguecullen on Tuesday afternoon, with prayers being led by Fr John Dunphy, PP, Graiguecullen-Killeshin, a long- time friend of Duxie’s. Jade and Jessica Nolan sang two of his favorite hymns.
Members of Graiguecullen GFC, many of whom were from Duxie’s playing days, formed a guard of honor from Carpenter’s to St Clare’s Church on Wednesday morning, where Fr John celebrated his great friend’s funeral Mass, assisted by Deacon Liam Dunne.
A number of significant symbols of Duxie’s life were brought to the altar at the start of Mass. His son James explained the significance of each symbol. Eoin Harte, a great friend of Duxie, brought forward a Graiguecullen GAA jersey, accompanied by his dad Seán, representing Duxie’s love of Graiguecullen GAA; Duxie’s trademark hat and walking stick, representing his independence, were presented by his youngest grandsons Dónal and Rían; a photo of Duxie and Hannah was presented by Zoe (granddaughter), symbolizing Duxie’s devotion to family life; Eppie Mae (granddaughter) brought forward a copy of the ***Irish Independent*** – Duxie read the paper every day and would be in contact with his sisters and circle of friends about the newspaper’s content; and goddaughter Ursula brought forward the Lourdes banner, symbolic of Duxie’s deep faith.
In a homily, Fr John said Duxie was a big brother to his sisters. They were always there for one another. He was a carer for his wife Hannah, traveling by train each day to visit her in hospital. And following Hannah’s death, he had cared for her sister Bernie up to her passing last October.
“His family was his life. He was proud of them, but never boasted about them. Duxie lived life to the full up to the day he died,” stated the celebrant.
He said that Duxie Keating had a simple philosophy for life, feeling everything was fine as long as one “had a warm coat, a shed full of fuel and the shopping done”.
Fr John spoke of the many friendships Duxie had made and his great sense of fun and love of the craic and banter. He was a popular and witty man and had many groups of friends, including the Bradley family, the Brennan family in Mullins Lane, The Thatch crew, including Davey and Maurice, his neighbors in New Oak Estate, Hannah’s nursing friends and, of course, his great friend Eoin Harte.
He described Duxie and his friends Jack Whelan and Tom Lukeman as “the last of the summer wine”. The Lourdes trio are now reunited again.
Readings at Mass were by his two daughters Majella and Margaret, while Prayers of the Faithful were recited by his son-in-law Tom, grandchildren (Ciara, Elliott and Eleana) and by his goddaughter Regina. The Offertory gifts were brought to the altar by Duxie’s sisters Betty and Pauline.
The Communion reflection was read by his daughter Clair. The reflection was titled Remember me.
The wonderful singing of hymns at Mass was by Caitriona Kelly, accompanied by organist Ollie Hennessy. His favorite hymns from Lourdes were included in the ceremony. Led by Fr Dunphy, the congregation joined in the singing of the Prayer for peace of St. Francis.
The Graiguecullen GAA colors rested on Duxie’s coffin.
Following Mass, Duxie was laid to rest with Hannah in St Mary’s Cemetery, with Fr Dunphy reciting the final prayers at the graveside.
He is mourned by his children Anthony, James, Yvonne Graham, Margaret Rice, Mary Brennan, Clair Farrell, Sarah Buggy and Majella Ryan. Duxie is also survived by his loving sisters Nell Farrell (Askea Lawns, Carlow), Annie Scully (Ballyhide, Carlow), twin sisters Pauline Meaney (Graiguecullen) and Bridget Baker (England), Teresa (Teasie) Murphy (Riverside, Carlow) and Betty Collins (Graiguecullen), by daughters-in-law Aisling and Valerie, sons-in-law Padraig, Seamus, Patrick, Dwayne, DJ and Tom, his cherished 16 grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sister-in-law, nephews, nieces, extended family, kind neighbors and his wide circle of friends.
The Month’s Mind Mass for Hugh Francis Keating will take place on Saturday 12 February in St Clare’s Church at 6.30pm.