THE hugely popular and greatly loved mother of six, who lost her life two days after she was involved in a road traffic accident in Killarney last Friday, has been remembered as a remarkable family woman and a very caring person who set a mighty example for her children to follow.
Joanne Downey, from Ash Close in Ballydribbeen, passed away on Sunday in Cork University Hospital where she was taken by ambulance following the collision involving a truck while she was walking near her home.
At a very poignant Requiem Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral yesterday, principal celebrant, Fr Niall Howard, said Joanne showed great resilience and determination in a life that was all about her family, whom she loved deeply, was so proud of and did everything she could for.
One of the things that gets people through very difficult times is when they look to others with admiration and draw from their example of resilience which was a trait Joanne had in abundance, he said.
Fr Niall said as so many parents often tell their children, life isn’t always fair and, he added, sometimes it rains heavier on those who deserve the sunshine all the more.
“We all know that and we’ve all seen it in our own lives at different times and we don’t know why,” he said.
He told the gathering in the cathedral that big-hearted people always find new ways of reaching out and there’s usually no limit to their goodness, their outreach and their generosity and Joanne’s love for and commitment to her family and others flowed outwards in that way.
She had a welcome for everybody, she always had the fire on and the tea ready. She enjoyed getting involved in the parents’ association activities in schools and she loved nothing more than feeding not just her family but an entire football team.
Legion GAA Club, of which Joanne was a stalwart member and a former outstanding achievement award recipient, revealed earlier in the week that Joanne volunteered her services to cook wholesome dinners for players returning home from college for training and, eventually, she ended up cooking for the entire squad after training every week.
Fr Niall said Joanne’s generous heart found a home as a carer with the Kerry Parents and Friends Association and, more recently, in the Killarney Nursing Home.
“She was one of the frontline heroes that we’ve all been talking about and admiring,” he said.
“Aren’t some people just truly amazing? Joanne did it with energy, with fun and without limits, doing whatever was needed in the time and in the place,” Fr Niall added.
The Killarney curate, who was joined on the altar by Fr David Gunn of Brosna and Joanne’s native parish of Knocknagoshel, said she had set a truly wonderful example for her children to follow.
No doubt, there were so many other life lessons Joanne still had to teach her children but the terrible road accident statistics became a shocking reality for her family, for the parish and the community left shocked and saddened by the death of a young mother.
“Our prayer for the family is that they might be able to tap into Joanne’s resilience and remember her lesson that family comes first, that family be there for each other and that families stick together,” Fr Niall said.
Directly addressing her six children seated together in the front pew, he added: “Reach out and live out Joanne’s dreams for you.”
Joanne is survived by her children Mark, Chris, Katriana, Ellie, Shane and Cassie, granddaughter Éabha, son-in-law Paul Horan, Mark’s partner Kiann, Chris’s partner Claudia and Ellie’s partner Neil.
She is further survived by her father, Joseph, brothers and sisters Brendan, Helen, John, DJ, Kay and Marian, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, relatives, neighbours, her work colleagues and her many great friends.
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