Grieving family of Joanne Ball told they ‘shouldn’t have to do this’

Funeral of woman whose body was found in a wardrobe takes place in Co Meath


Joanne Ball, whose body was found in a wardrobe in Dublin last week, was a woman filled with happiness, beauty and - most of all - love, her funeral Mass in Co Meath has been told.

Fr John Conlon told the grieving parents of the 38-year-old. also known as Joanne Lee, that they were living a nightmare.

“I am sure that in the last few days you were praying that you would wake and realise that it is just a terrible dream. But unfortunately it is not. It is a reality and you are left to bear this terrible grief, this terrible loss this terrible pain.”

He told the congregation at St Cianan’s Church near Duleek, Co Meath that it was wrong that they had to be gathered there on Saturday morning for the funeral of Ms Ball.

Addressing her parents Dermot and Catherine, her siblings Jillian, Dermot, Jennifer and Gerard, as well as her extended family, Fr Conlon said: “You shouldn’t have to do this.

Flowers at the scene at the house on Ranelagh Road, Dublin where the body of Joanne Lee was discovered in a wardrobe last week. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Flowers at the scene at the house on Ranelagh Road, Dublin where the body of Joanne Lee was discovered in a wardrobe last week. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

“There shouldn’t be a casket in the church today. This family should not be here.”

But he told mourners the family had been anxious the funeral would not be a commemoration of the last hours of her life, “but rather it would serve as a celebration of all her life.”

After the ornate white coffin arrived on a white, horse-drawn hearse and was carried aloft into the church. Three large photographs, were brought to the altar by members of Ms Ball’s family as the service got under way.

Fr Conlon said the first was a photograph of Ms Ball’s dog Ziggy and represented her love of animals and nature; the second photo was of Ms Ball herself looking radiant, a symbol Fr Conlon said of the beauty within.

The photograph of her parents represented Ms Ball’s love of her parents and her family life, he said. “The photographs are symbols of a life that was lived well,” he said.

He told mourners Ms Ball’s mother had placed a butterfly in coffin alongside her daughter. A butterfly spent much of its life on the surface of a leaf before effectively dying and joyfully rising up, effectively being reborn, he said.

Ms Ball has risen into the very source of peace and love and he hoped that in the dark times ahead, some of that peace and love could penetrate the grief in the hearts of her parents.

Ms Ball’s body was found in a wardrobe in a flat in the Dublin suburb of Ranelagh on Thursday of last week. It was found wrapped in a sleeping bag. A postmortem found she had been strangled.

Her estranged husband had been in the apartment when gardaí called after Ms Ball was reported missing.

However, he jumped from the third floor apartment window on Ranelagh Road and suffered serious injuries, including broken legs, when he hit the ground.

He then self harmed with a box-cutter knife. One of the gardaí who had called to the property took off some of his own clothing and fashioned a tourniquet to stem the bleeding.

The injured man was then taken by ambulance to St Vincent’s Hospital and was expected to require treatment there for a number of weeks.

Gardaí searched the apartment and found Ms Ball’s body in the wardrobe. She had been dead for at least 48 hours.