Lives Lost to Covid-19: Jean Sherlock was the core of her family and a Bowie fan

She was the ‘glue’ that bound her family and will be missed by many around Templeogue

This article is one of a series about people who have died with coronavirus in Ireland and among the diaspora. You can read more of them here

Jean Sherlock (nee Doran)


It was so sudden for Jean Sherlock and her family. She was diagnosed with lung cancer at Tallaght hospital in mid-January, found to be Covid-positive three days later, turned 71 on January 17th and died on February 1st .

Her only daughter and the eldest of her three children, Yvonne Harrison, is still shocked by the speed of it. "Six weeks before this monstrous virus took hold of this beautiful lady, she stood at my door chatting away saying she was off to do her weekly shopping, then off to the local church to light candles to St Anthony for us all, and looking forward to the Strictly Come Dancing final."

The funeral "had only her immediate family present, while others here and abroad watched online. During normal times that church [St Pius X in Templeogue, Dublin] would be packed out the door, and that is no exaggeration."


Jean was “the core of our family. She was the glue that kept us all together. I’ve had heartache before, but this is on another level. It’s been horrendous, the whole thing has been horrendous. I don’t want my mam to be a statistic. I want people to know that she was an amazing mam. I can’t imagine her not being there.”

Since her mother died, Yvonne has made one surprising discovery. Her aunt Alice, Jean's only sibling, revealed that Jean had been a big David Bowie fan. "I didn't know that. I know she liked Rod Stewart and Daniel O'Donnell. She never said anything. Your mam is not cool, you see."

Ann Marie Doran (nicknamed Jean as a child), was born in Dublin on January 17th, 1950, and grew up in Rathmolyon, Co Meath, with her parents and Alice. The family moved to Donnybrook in Dublin when she was 12.

Her father got a job as gardener with the Sisters of Charity at the Magdalene laundry there and the family lived in the caretaker’s house. More recently, as stories emerged of what went on in Magdalene laundries, Jean would recall the pale, gaunt-looking girls in Donnybrook and how she was forbidden to talk to them.

After school Jean worked at Huets in Dublin as an invoice typist. There she met Kevin Sherlock. They married in 1972 and moved to Glenview Park, Tallaght, where they raised Yvonne, Tony and Norman. As the family grew, they moved to nearby Templeogue.

Jean joined the local ladies’ club, where she became a bowling champion and took part in half-marathons. She was also childminder for a second family locally. More recently there have been her “two granddaughters and five grandsons. They were her world. We live 10 minutes around the corner, and my brothers’ families are nearby too,” said Yvonne. Their father, Kevin, got Jean an iPad and, during lockdowns, “she was able to Facetime the grandkids and her sister Alice for hours”.

Jean’s companion on her frequent walks was “Lucy, her precious whippet dog. Even now, when we take Lucy out for a walk, we get stopped by those who knew Mam saying what a lovely lady she was and she will be sadly missed,” said Yvonne. She will be remembered “for being one in million and we as family were so lucky to have her in our lives”.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times