The Coventry Irish Society has launched the Margaret Keane Irish Language School in tribute to the Co Meath woman whose Irish language gravestone inscription sparked a court battle.

Keane, who was born in Ireland and later relocated to the UK where she married an Irish man and raised a family, was very involved with the Roger Casements GAA club in Coventry, so much so that she was presented the GAA President's Award in 2017.

The Irish woman died unexpectedly in July 2018 at the age of 73 and was buried at St. Giles in Exhall in Coventry.

The Keane family wanted to honor Margaret's Irish heritage by including the Irish language phrase "in ár gcroíthe go deo" (in our hearts forever) on her gravestone.

The Chancellor at the church, however, refused to allow the Irish language phrase without an English translation on the gravestone, kicking off a long legal battle for Keane's family.

With the support of the Irish community in Coventry, the Keane family ultimately won their legal battle in 2021 and the Irish language inscription was installed in time for St. Patrick's Day that year.

A poignant end to our journey on this St Patrick’s Day sees mums headstone finally installed, today may mum finally rest in eternal peace.

Posted by Message To Margaret on Wednesday, March 17, 2021

In June 2021, the Arches Court of Canterbury published its judgment which said that the original refusal was unreasonable under the common law and in breach of the family’s right not to be discriminated against under the Human Rights Act and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The judgment stated in part: “...we find that the effect of the Chancellor’s decision was to discriminate directly against the Appellant on the basis of her race” and that “…an assumption seems to have been made that viewers of the inscription, realising that it was in Irish, would conclude that it was a political slogan, which we have found not to be based upon evidence or any other rational footing.

The Coventry Irish Society said in late March that it was "delighted" to announce the Irish language school named in tribute to Keane.

Bez Martin, one of Margaret’s daughters, said: “As a family, it is such a privilege that Coventry Irish Society have named their Language School after mum. 

“The fight we endured to express our final message to mum on her headstone in Irish should never have happened, and as we fought to challenge that discrimination we were joined by supporters across Coventry and beyond. 

“This tribute to mum will be a lasting legacy for all the right reasons, thank you to Coventry Irish Society and we hope that many people reap the rewards that learning Irish can bring, connecting with their heritage, or simply celebrating the joy of the Irish language and sharing it with others."

You can learn more about the Margaret Keane Irish Language School here.