Tributes have been paid following the death of a “tireless champion” of the arts in Cork, barrister Jane Anne Rothwell, who was chairwoman of Cork Midsummer Festival for the last five years.
Ms Rothwell, who was in her 40s and from Ballinlough, died peacefully, surrounded by her family, in Cork University Hospital on Sunday following a short illness. She is survived by her husband, Steven O’Neill, her parents, John and Parfrey, and her siblings, Jonathan and Karl.
Lorraine Maye, director of Cork Midsummer Festival, said even in the organisation’s darkest days, Ms Rothwell was the “brightest of lights”.
Ms Maye said: “Her energy knew no limits. She led from the front with a fierce passion, but always with fairness, kindness, and generosity. She was an inspirational leader and a tireless champion of the arts, and of artists in Cork. Thanks to her leadership, the festival will continue to grow and flourish.”
Lord Mayor councillor Mick Finn led tributes to her at a meeting of Cork City Council last night: “Her contribution to the festival was fantastic. She moved the festival on to a new trajectory and she will be hugely missed by all involved in the arts and cultural sectors.”
Ms Rothwell was appointed to the board of the Midsummer Festival in March 2013 and was appointed chairwoman in September. In a statement yesterday, the organisation said she touched everyone she met with her “infectious enthusiasm, boundless positive energy, endless kindness, and huge heart”.
Cáit Watkins, deputy principal of Christ King secondary school, said the school community is shocked at the loss of such a valued past pupil.
Following her graduation with a law degree from UCC in 1997, Ms Rothwell was called to the Bar in 1999, working mainly on the Munster and South Western Circuits.
She lectured and tutored in company and tort law in UCC and Griffith College from 2000 to 2005, and was an intern and extern examiner in media law for the Irish Academy of Public Relations.
She had been the honorary secretary of the Munster Bar since 2004 and organised the Cork Bar Conference abroad annually.
Burial will take place in St Finbarr’s Cemetery today after 11am requiem Mass in St Columba’s Church, Douglas.