Homeless woman who died in Dublin was kind, excellent nurse and loved music, mourners hear

Death of Ann Delaney (47) was ‘born leader wherever she went’ leaves more questions than answers

The isolated country church in Doonane, Co Laois, is a long way from a cold pavement in Dublin city centre.

Ann Delaney took her last journey home in the company of her friends and family. She was alone when she was found unresponsive at the spot beside Tesco on Aungier Street that had been her home for the last few months of her life. She died in St James’s Hospital on Sunday.

Her funeral Mass at St Abban’s Church heard about her kindness, concern for others, sense of fun and love of music.

The soundtrack of her life included Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and her favourite song, Dolores Keane’s version of Caledonia.


In her youth she had been an athlete, and a guard of honour was provided by members of the local St Abban’s Athletics Club, in their green, white and orange sashes.

The packed congregation heard from family friend Fr Jimmy O’Reilly about how Ms Delaney had been an excellent nurse who combined her love of the profession with a desire to travel. She travelled and worked in Australia, Guernsey in the Channel Islands and England, before returning to Ireland.

She was capable of great kindnesses, he continued, and a “born leader wherever she went” who was sought out by others for advice in different situations.

“She became the heart and the queen of the community” on the streets of Dublin, according to the priest, as was her outreach to the most vulnerable in the society.

This was reflected in the outpouring of love and sympathy that followed her death. A shrine of flowers, cards and balloons was placed on Aungier Street at the spot where she was found unresponsive on Sunday.

Yet her death at the age of 47 on the streets of Dublin as a homeless person left so many unanswered questions, said her sister Róisín.

“As a family we never understood why Ann chose to live like she did. Over the last number of years it has been incredibly frustrating and painful that Ann would not accept the help that so many people had offered her.

“Family, friends and professionals offered her as much support as they could, but sadly it was to no avail.

“The outpouring of grief for Ann showed how loved she was and how she brought positivity into people’s lives, though she was struggling herself. Ann always knew she had a home in Dromone and a family that loved her very much.”

The chief mourner was Ann Delaney’s daughter Saoirse (17), who was described by Róisín as somebody who embodied her mother’s “kind nature”.

Ms Delaney was buried in the church’s adjoining cemetery. She is survived by her mother Mary, brothers Thomas, John, Ciaran and Paul and sisters Siobhán, Tricia, Róisín and Emer.

  • See our new project Common Ground, Evolving Islands: Ireland & Britain
  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now pubed daily – Find the latest episode here
Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times