Sheeane, Cogaula, Westport and formerly of Springfield Drive, The Quay, Westport
Joseph ‘Joe’ Moran passed away peacefully in the company of his loving family on Friday, June 8th last at his home in Sheeane. While Joe’s passing was not unexpected it still cast a shroud of sadness over a community that knew how hard Joe had battled against his illness over a number of years. That sadness was evident in the numbers that visited his home where his remains lay over a weekend before his Funeral Mass was held in his home church of St Mary’s and his burial afterwards in Aughavale Cemetery.
To say that Joe Moran was much loved is an understatement. He was never loud or brash or a limelight seeker but he was genuine, decent and loyal. It was those latter qualities that endeared him to so many and when news of his passing spread people remembered him as a gentleman that had fought his illness with such courage and dignity for so many years.
And he had fought all of his life. From when he was a baby of eight months old and being diagnosed with an aggressive childhood cancer called Wilms Tumor which necessitated him having his kidney removed and all of the muscles from one side of his back. He dealt with it so bravely and he continued to live his life in the same vein, never allowing it to be defined by an illness. His friend from childhood, Padraig Burns, spoke at his Funeral Mass of how when they were growing up at the Quay no one knew that Joe had only one kidney. ‘All we knew was that Joe had a left foot that was a thing of beauty. He had the classic educated left foot and he was capable of making a ball do as he willed with it.’
Joe Moran grew up at the Quay in much the same way as everyone else did. School was tolerated but football was the anchor tenant. They dabbled in tennis when Wimbledon was on and pretended to be Eddie Macken on Boomerang when it was Horse Show time but football was the constant. And Joe was good at it. Good enough to play for Westport United at every level and good enough to win a Connaught Cup medal in 1987. That same medal was alongside him when he was laid to rest in Aughavale as was the club flag from his beloved Westport United.
He understood what it meant to be a part of a club and he served his time as club treasurer and was an active committee member up until a couple of years ago. Joe was the proper supporter too. He encouraged and even on days when his health prevented him from attending a game he always sent a message of good luck to everyone involved. He was so proud of the club’s achievements in recent years and prouder again to see his own son, Patrick, play a key role in so many victories.
But football wasn’t his first love. That was reserved for the girl next door. Her name was Maria Cunningham and they were married twenty three years ago. They had four sons -Keelan, Patrick, Josh and Daniel and when his brother Mark spoke at the Funeral Mass, he spoke of how deeply Joe loved Maria. He talked about looking at old photographs and what struck everyone of their wedding day photographs was how happy Joe looked. “He was the happiest that day that I have ever seen him,’ he said. Mark spoke about how selfless a woman Maria was and how she lived her wedding vow of ‘in sickness and in health every day of our lives’.
In his homily, Fr Ger Burns, a neighbour and friend, spoke about Joe and the courage he faced life with. He recited words from a song called ‘I lived’ which captured Joe’s attitude to life perfectly. The song described a young man living with a terminal condition but he never let it stop him living. That was Joe Moran. Fr Ger recalled receiving a phone call from Joe in April of 2017 asking him to meet up next time he was in Westport. They met at the Point and when they were talking Joe asked Fr Ger would he say his Funeral Mass. “It was one of those moments in my life that I don’t think I will ever forget. It took some courage for Joe to say those words but it showed too how prepared he was for leaving this world. Joe was ready, he said”.
Joe’s working life was spent in the Allergan warehouse and he was a hugely popular member of staff there. However, around eight years ago he had to retire due to his deteriorating health issues. He began to have to spend longer times in hospital in Galway and Castlebar. Over the years the reports about his health were bleak and frequently we heard that it was not looking good for Joe. But then, as Fr Ger said at the Mass, ‘Joe would be beside you at a match’. And that was how he lived those last eight years. He had to tell his family on more than one occasion that he was not going to make it and then he did. His son Patrick said at his Funeral Mass that he was known as Lazarus in the hospital wards. Patrick brought a smile to the congregation when he spoke about his father’s fondness of Mrs Brown’s Boys and of the character Grandad who was sick in one episode and asked Mrs Brown was he going to die. ‘Yeah, you are. On Friday’, she said. He said when his father was sick over the past few years he’d ask was he going to die and they’d all say yes, on Friday. “It was ironic then that he did die on a Friday,’ he said”. Patrick spoke of the positivity of his father and how he was always so encouraging to his fellow patients in hospital.
When Joe did die he was surrounded by the people he would have wanted there. They were his family and his dearest friends. Over the weekend when his remains were in his home there was a constant stream of people calling to pay their respects. That meant so much to Maria and the family but it really should not have been a surprise as Joe was so well thought of by all who knew him. His friends and colleagues in Westport United walked side by side with him as his remains reached St Mary’s and later up Bridge Street as he was being brought to Aughavale. As the cortege made its way through his native Quay his coffin was carried past Boffin Street as far as the Marian Shrine in a fitting tribute to a real Quay native.
Joe Moran was pre-deceased by his mother Marie. He is survived by his wife Marie; sons Keelan, Patrick, Josh and Daniel; sister Keveen; brothers Mark, Peter and his father Joe Joe along with all the extended members of the Moran and Cunningham families. May his lovely and gentle soul rest in peace.