Tributes to force against ‘injustice’ Nan Joyce at funeral

Tragedy as grandson of Nan Joyce killed in crash travelling down from Belfast to funeral

Nan Joyce, the Traveller activist who died this week, was “a person who refused to be a victim,” mourners at her funeral have been told. Photograph:  Paddy Whelan/THE IRISH TIMES

Nan Joyce, the Traveller activist who died this week, was “a person who refused to be a victim,” mourners at her funeral have been told. Photograph: Paddy Whelan/THE IRISH TIMES

 

Nan Joyce, the Traveller activist who died this week, was “a person who refused to be a victim,” mourners at her funeral have been told.

“Forced to live in the gutter, she always looked to the stars,” Fr Paul O’Driscoll said.

“As we gather praying for Nan, honouring her memory, in our time in history the call is renewed to resist systemic, structured, institutionalised injustice with every bone in our bodies, with all our might, with all your soul.

Ms Joyce was a prominent campaigner for Traveller rights, and died in Dublin this week aged 78. Her funeral mass heard how she was the first member of the Travelling community to contest a Dáil election, in 1982. In 2010, she received a lifetime achievement award from then president Mary McAleese for her campaigning work over three decades.

“We must befriend the victims of systemic injustice, side with them, listen to their stories, let their pain break your heart. Join the movements to end injustice, tie your money to the cause, commit yourself to the struggle,” Fr O’Driscoll, a priest from the parish of the Travelling people, told the funeral mass.

“While it may take a long time, our non-violent persistence and truth telling, will eventually win out and bear the good fruit of justice, truth is on our side,” he said.

Ms Joyce was often described as “beautiful, articulate, resourceful,” he noted, before referring to the death of her grandson, Patrick Joyce.

Mr Joyce (24) who was killed in a single-vehicle collision in the early hours of Friday morning, after travelling down from Belfast for the funeral.

His mother Mag and teenage brother Richie (13) were also injured, and Mag is in a critical condition at the Mater Hospital. The van driven by Mr Joyce collided with a fence in Fairview Park, at 1am on Friday.

Several mourners at the funeral in St Francis of Assisi Church, learned Patrick Joyce had been killed in the crash, only when they were outside the church. Fr O’Driscoll asked those at the mass to pray for Mag and Richie.

Representatives for President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attended the funeral.

Elizabeth, Nan’s daughter, read a reading from the New Testament at the mass, and a friend read a poem Nan had written several years ago, titled No More.

“No more was yesterday, yesterday is tomorrow … When we are dead then we are no more in this world, but forever in the next world,” it read.

“Then we will live forever, to be where the flowers never die, and sadness never falls. Where our tears will be the tears of happiness, our hearts will be made with wild roses that cannot break.”

The casket, draped in a tricolour, was taken to Balgriffin cemetery by horse drawn carriage, where Nan Joyce will be buried beside her husband John, who died three years ago.