Tributes paid to nurse at centre of cervical smear case who ‘touched lives of many’

Dingle woman Joan Lucey was ‘a fighter in the face of injustice’, funeral hears

Joan Lucey had taken a legal action against the HSE over cervical smear tests but died on Friday before mediation in the case had started.

Prayers for those suffering from cancer “especially woman” were said at the funeral mass of the late Joan Lucey in her parish church in Dingle on Monday, where the former district nurse was remembered as a “a fighter in the face of injustice”.

Joan, nee Brosnan, a retired nurse and widow, had taken a legal action against the HSE over cervical smear tests but died on Friday, surrounded by her children, before mediation in the case had started.

The mass at St Mary’s Church, where Joan’s simple wicker coffin was before the altar, was concelebrated by parish priest Fr Michael Moynihan and family friend Fr Jim Sheehy.

Her son Sean told of his mother’s love of Dingle and the Irish language. Born in 1948 to a fishing family and growing up in a different Dingle to what it is now, she had trained as a nurse at the North Infirmary and met her husband Corkman Robbie Lucey.


The couple married after a whirlwind romance. They soon moved to Zambia and worked there for several years before returning to live in Tralee for 20 years.

They were a fun loving and gregarious couple, the mass heard.

When Robbie became seriously ill at a young age Joan cared for him. With his death, she “faced the challenge of her life” and she moved with their children, aged 19, 16 and 8, to Dingle, retrained and started work as a district nurse.

“She really loved living in Dingle,” Sean said. She walked, swam was in the film club and in the Dingle historical society.

“As a district nurse in the community she touched the lives of many in west Kerry,” he said.

Her party piece was talking.

“Mom really loved to talk,” hers son recalled.

She had many friends and two in particular - former colleagues Mary Curran and Aine Moriarty - were thanked for their “endless support” to his mother.

The centre of her world was her family, including her extended family and she had been a truly doting and loving wife to her late husband. “And Mom, we now know that you are finally back with Dad,” Sean said.

Fr Moynihan said Ms Lucey was a woman of courage, strength and bravery and “a fighter in the face of injustice”. The priest prayed for all those affected by the coronavirus, and all those suffering from cancer especially women.

She is survived by her children Sinead and Eileen and son Sean, her sister Eileen and brother Sean and grandchildren Isobel, Jane and Fiadh and son-in-law Jonathan.