Joan Coady nee Bowe


An Appreciation:MRS JOAN COADY was a stalwart of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association and her enormous contribution at county, national and European level was hugely valued.

Born Joan Bowe, in Thomas Street, Waterford, she was the fourth of nine children. She was schooled in Waterford and then in Northampton, England, where she lived with her aunt. When Joan finished school she worked in the bank until she met and married Nicholas Coady in 1944. They lived in Dublin and Joan joined the ICA in the 1950s, immediately becoming immersed in the organisation.

Joan became a member of the ICA’s Dublin Town Association, going on to become vice president of Dublin TA. She became public relations officer for the guild and later national ICA PR officer.

She was on the An Grianán committee and the executive committee of the association and was part of the ICA committee that accepted the gift of An Grianán, an adult education college for the women of Ireland, from the Kellogg Foundation in 1954.

Joan became the founder of An Grianán News Quarterly publication after being asked to help out with the “news”. She was its first editor and it soon became a monthly magazine, taking news of all events in the organisation to the members across the guilds in each of the 27 federations.

Joan had huge interest in the ICA’s international dimension, the Associated Country Women of the World. The ACWW, which was founded in 1930 and has nine million members in 66 countries, believes governments need the support of women’s voluntary organisations if their efforts to alleviate need and improve social conditions internationally are to be successful. Rural women’s organisations such as the ICA provide a two-way channel for a flow of information between people and government. In 1965, Joan was the co-ordinating secretary for the ICA-hosted triennial conference of the ACWW in Dublin, which brought members from many countries to Ireland.

When her husband Nicholas passed away in 1968, Joan moved back to Tramore. She enjoyed tending her cliff face garden, and in 1969 joined Tramore Guild and became an important part of Waterford Federation.

Joan was elected ACWW area vice-president (Europe) at a conference in Hamburg in 1980 for a three-year term. This was a tremendous recognition of the ICA, but most of all, of Joan.

She was an advisory member of the committee for the triennial conference in Killarney in 1986.

In 1987 Joan received the highest accolade bestowed by the ICA – Buan Chara, a title given to a member who has contributed an enormous amount to the association over many years and given exceptional service. In 1996 she moved into Maypark nursing home where she continued gardening a small plot in the grounds.

Waterford was very proud to have Joan Coady in its federation – she served as federation president from 1972 to 1974. Although Joan was not as active in her later years, she will always be remembered as one of the most graceful and elegant past presidents, a very intelligent lady, and a fount of knowledge in matters of the ICA.

She is sadly missed by her loving sister Marie and brother-in-law Harry Slattery, her sister-in-law Breda (Bowe), nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.