Home > Straws For The Camel's Back > October 19th, 2016

October 19th, 2016

Joanna and the King of Siam

It’s a year ago today since the funeral in Dalkey of our beloved daughter Joanna, who died of liver cancer at the age of 48 and is buried in Shanganagh within sight of  the Dublin/Wicklow mountains.

      Joanna Lowry McCann

And with the morn those angel faces smile,

Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile

—Blessed John Henry Newman

In paradisum deducant te angeli

Everyone thinks their own children are unique, but I honestly believe that all who met her thought she was too. Her great friend Alexia Kelly brought this out so well in her eulogy, published in this blog about this time last year. Joanna was the only one of our four whom I was quite unable to discipline.  Much to my own mother’s annoyance, whenever I tried to call Joanna to order she would always fix me with a particular look, and no matter how ferociously I frowned she would say “Daddy’s laughing”. I would struggle to conceal my amusement by emulating the expression adopted by the Roman soldiers in the infamous Monty Python film. (You may recall how they twisted their upper and lower lips together  but ended up yelping with laughter despite threats of being sent to the gladiatorial arena.)

My elder son Joe was unable to be with us at this time, but we were very glad to get this message from his Facebook page, in Thailand:

Heartfelt thanks to all of you for all your good wishes to our family yesterday, the first anniversary of my little sister’s passing. Mass this morning at Assumption Cathedral here in Bangkok was offered by Fr John Murray for “Our brother King Bumibohl and our sister, Joanna”

An honour, any way you look at it.

Image may contain: indoor
Assumption Cathedral, Bangkok

I didn’t ask for any special music, but the choir opened with a spirited version of “Amazing Grace”, and at Communion, “Eagle’s Wings”. This is a pretty crazy coincidence – when we were kids on holidays in Donegal we found a monument to a downed WW2 pilot on a lonely strand. The inscription read “I raised you on eagle’s wings and bore you to Myself”. Joanna loved it and copied it into a notebook. It was one of the possible verses that her husband and I spoke about for her own headstone.

It was played at the same point during her funeral Mass.

Then ­“How great thou art”… Another of her favourites and one Lena and I had at our wedding. Then nine minutes silence for the King, and a beautiful, tender “Pie Jesu”.

“For our brother King Bumibohl, and our sister Joanna.”  That’s one last crazy coincidence only me, Mary Lowry, Nicholas Lowry and Paula Lowry Hand will get, and laugh at loudly.

I may have been so far from them, but Joanna Lowry McCann made sure there were enough surprises to keep us smiling as one through all our tears.

Long-standing readers of this blog will know that I don’t share my children’s tastes in liturgy, but I have to agree that these coincidences are truly remarkable and extraordinarily apt.

Here’s a message and some pictures from Joanna’s elder sister Paula Hand:

Joanna’s 1st Anniversary today. Dad did her proud as he served at the traditional Latin Mass in her memory, at  Newtownmountkennedy this morning. And in true Lowry fashion we had a Nice Lunch afterwards. We have kept each other going through a tough year. We miss her dreadfully.                                         
                                               Stramentaria with Joanna’s younger brother Luke
       Luke takes his first selfie—with 
               big sister Paula Hand
     A greedy old devil  stealing  chocolate brownie from  grandson Francis 
These pictures of Paula’s reveal quite a mystery: how the Lord can give a family a  kind of joy even in the midst of a profound sorrow.



  1. Thanks for that reminder of Joanna’s first anniversary, Nick, I”ll be offering Mass for her in the next few days. Great to see those pics of you (most uncharacteristically breaking the 7th Commandment–subsection on stealing other family member’s chocolate dessert, penance: attending one novus ordo Mass on a weekday of your choice!). Remembering you all in my prayers, big hello to Mary, Brendan

    • Thanks for that, Brendan.
      Couldn’t resist putting in that pic.
      It was sheer gluttony. Mary doesn’t like my eating chocolate puds.

  2. Just showed the difference between believing Christians who agree with St Paul’s rhetorical question, ‘O Death, where is thy victory, where is thy sting?’–of course, as with the widow of Nain, Lazarus, you have to shed tears of grief, but fundamentally, we’re certain that we’ll see our faithful departed again, face to face. as you surely can be with your dear Joanna. And thank God we have the mercy of Purgatory, where it’s we who do the purgation, we want to prepare ourselves to be fully ready to meet Our Lord face to face. Very best, enjoy a few more choc puds on the quiet! Brendan

  3. The ‘nine minutes’ silence’ for the late King Bhumibol relate to two things: he was King Rama IX of Thailand (for 70 years) and nine is a ‘lucky number’ in Thailand. Many Thais are wearing T-shirts with the number 9 on them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *