Joan Burton was born in County Carlow in 1949
Joan Burton was born in County Carlow in 1949. She was, at the age of two and a half, adopted by John and Bridie Burton, whose own infant daughter had died.
The family moved to Stoneybatter, close to the city centre.
Bridie Burton instilled in Joan that she could be whatever she wanted to be. Joan was educated in Sisters of Charity Secondary School, Stanhope Street. She recalls the social justice instilled in her by the nuns. A Civics teacher in school encouraged her to apply for a Dublin Corporation scholarship.
Joan had begun work as a clerical officer when she got news that she had won a Dublin Corporation scholarship. She went in to University College Dublin with the idea of doing History and English, but she met Mr Keogh, a porter, who said to her ‘you’re going to need a job. Do commerce.’
Joan did not take part in student politics in University College Dublin. At that time, Bridie got cancer and Joan nursed her until she died while Joan was in college.
When Joan left college she became a trainee accountant, she became the first woman apprentice Price Waterhouse had taken on in over thirty years.
A meeting with David Thornley, a Labour TD for Cabra and Finglas, led her to join the Labour Party.
There she met Pat Carroll, her future husband, who had completed a Masters in physics, and was a Dublin City Councillor.
Joan and her husband were both lecturing in the Dublin Institute of Technology and active in the party and other organisations.
Joan was Honorary Secretary of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement 1979 – 1983, until the couple took a leave of absence to go to Africa as part of the Irish Development Corporation Programme. They took their young daughter Aoife with them.
The couple both lectured in the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 1983 - 1986. They returned to Ireland in 1987.