A Laois woman who leads the education in sustainable fashion in Ireland, has been awarded with a top academic honour, along with three other leading Irish figures.
Emo woman Miriam Keegan, a graduate of Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, has been recognised as their 2023 Alumni of the Year.
She joined three other high profile awardees at the recent ceremony; Kerry football legend, Tomás Ó Sé, Limerick hurling Captain, Declan Hannon and RTÉ broadcaster, Petula Martyn.
“I’m delighted to receive this Alumni award from MIC. I’m very proud of all I’ve achieved and it’s so humbling to get this recognition from the College.
“Without a doubt, it is what I learned here, especially in my Visual Arts Specialism under the expert guidance of Anne-Marie Morrin, that has been so important to my career in sustainable fashion and it was there that I really focused on my talent for sewing and honed my skills. What I have achieved to date stems from the lessons I learned here at MIC,” Ms Keegan said.
Her mission is to bring awareness, education and solutions for sustainability in fashion, whether it be for teachers, consumers, children through sewing or for businesses through innovation and transparency.
It is the latest in a long list of remarkable achievements by the education leader and sustainable fashion designer, who even sewed her own beautiful gown the night before the event.
A daughter of Willie and Maureen, and a graduate of Mountrath Community School, Miriam was deeply inspired by her grandmother’s abilities in sewing and dressmaking and always had a keen interest and talent in sewing herself.
She graduated in 2016 from Mary Immaculate with a Bachelor of Education, specialising in Visual Art Education.
During her time at the Limerick college, Miriam was awarded the Carmel Naughton Foundation scholarship to study at Notre Dame University, USA, where she worked with the children and staff of Perley Fine Arts Academy, creating a collaborative textile mascot that still hangs in the school today.
Miriam then spent five years teaching in Laois and Kildare and won the Highly Commended Award at the Department of Justice’s ‘Someone Like Me’ Awards in 2016 for a whole-school collaborative art project.
In 2018, Miriam began studying Fashion Design and set up a sewing club in her school for children to learn the basics of sewing. In 2020, during the pandemic, Miriam created the first-of-its-kind EPV teacher online summer course on sustainable fashion in the classroom.
Since then, more than 350 teachers have completed this course, and this year will see the introduction of two new courses, ‘Sustainable Costume Making in the Classroom’ and ‘Sustainable Fashion and Maths’, both approved by the Department of Education.
Pictured at the Mary Immaculate College Awards Ceremony with Professor Eugene Wall, President of MIC. Pic: Don Moloney
In 2021, the teacher was one of the select recipients of the Fulbright-EPA award, which allowed her to complete her Master of Science in Fashion and Apparel Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Fashion Business at the University of Delaware in the United States.
Upon graduation this year, Miriam began working for the Fair Labor Association, where she is part of the social compliance team, advocating for garment workers’ rights.
Last October, Miriam led the fashion brand Aoife Mc Namara to become the first fashion brand in Ireland to achieve BCorp certification, one of the most rigorous and respected sustainability certifications in the world.
Not finished with her thirst for education, Miriam is currently studying for a Graduate Diploma in Carbon Footprinting and Life Cycle Analysis at UCD, alongside her work.
Previous recipients of the MIC Alumni of the Year award include Carmel Naughton, founder of the Naughton Foundation; sports journalist, Jacqui Hurley; Supermacs Founder, Pat McDonagh; and author Roisin Meaney; former Executive Director of Trócaire, Éamonn Meehan; presenter, Dáithí Ó Sé; RTÉ political correspondent, Micheál Lehane; former Irish Rugby captain, Ciara Griffin; and Google Ireland’s Director of People Operations, Helen Tynan; and BBC commissioning editor, Tommy Bulfin.
The recipients were presented with their award at the College’s annual awards night, where the achievements of almost 150 students and graduates were celebrated.