It’s often stated that the GAA is a close-knit family in times of crisis, but every once and a while a positive representation of this characteristic goes above and beyond expectations.
And so it was on Wednesday morning, as the remains of Joanne Downey were led from the Legion GAA Club grounds in Killarney, that a moment of closeness transcended this norm.
The wider ‘Legion family’ embraced the Downey family when they needed it most as club members with green and white flags, jerseys and club tracksuits lined the route to give Joanne the farewell she deserved.
Joanne’s son Chris said his mother loved the club, and even though she gave it a lot in terms of effort, she got so much back in return.
“The club was her social outlet. She loved the banter at the club,” Chris said.
Legion GAA was a home away from home for Joanne, a place where she left an indelible mark through her kindness and commitment. Joanne was the personification of the ‘GAA mammy’ as she looked out for all the players, and they didn’t forget Joanne when turning out in such large numbers – boys and girls, men and women – to say goodbye.
“The support from the club has been phenomenal. They just want what’s best for you, that’s the kind of people they are. The send-off they gave mom was special and the applause she got. She wanted to be shouldered down the church to Meat Loaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’, that’s the kind of woman she was,” Chris said.
Club PRO Elaine O’Donoghue described the loss of Joanne as ‘immeasurable’ to everyone who knew her.
“She had a massive heart and was such a huge worker behind the scenes for the club, she was incredible,” Elaine said.
“With all the tragedies we’ve had, the club always comes together. We gave Joanne the send-off she deserved. As a club, our support will continue for the family. Her daughter, Cassie, plays for the club and our support will always be there for them,” Elaine said.