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Funeral takes place in London of 100-year-old Donegal woman, Patsy Fowler

Letterkenny native received special honour from Queen for act of bravery

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Death of Patsy Fowler

Patsy Fowler whose funeral took place in London on Thursday

When Donegal woman Mary Patricia Fowler received a birthday telegram from the Queen on the occasion of her 100th birthday in July, it wasn’t the first time she had been the subject of royal attention.

Mary Patricia - known as Patsy, nee Doherty from St. Eunan’s Terrace in Letterkenny - was honoured with a special award for bravery from the Queen when as a nurse during the war years in London, she made her way down a deep mine shaft and saved the life of a miner who had got into difficulties.

That moment of bravery was remembered by Fr James Mackay at Patsy’s funeral Mass in London’s East End last Thursday. Just a few weeks after celebrating her 100th birthday, Patsy sadly passed away on August 28 last.

Fr James noted how as a nurse, Patsy would have cared for and therefore impacted on the lives of so many people during her career. She saved a man’s life during her heroic moment of bravery all those years ago, but that was just one of countless people with whom she came into contact in such a positive way.

Friends and family members, including Patsy’s daughter Mary, and her only surviving sibling Breid (London) gathered in St. Anne’s Church for a beautiful funeral Mass. 

For many years, Patsy was a regular visitor back home to her native Letterkenny. She spent long summers with her brother Barney and sister Harriete (Strabane) and was extremely well known and fondly remembered here.

Her nephew and Godson Diarmaid Doherty, who delivered the eulogy at Thursday’s funeral Mass, said that when news of her passing reached Letterkenny it evoked a real sense of sadness.

“Patsy was after all, a proud Letterkenny woman - and she was very well known, much loved and so well respected by so many,” Diarmaid said.

“The same could be said for her sister Harriete who sadly passed away back in January.

“But there was a smile too from many - because back in July, Aunty Patsy turned 100. 

It’s a remarkable milestone, and when you think about all that Patsy came through in life; all that she gave to people; all that she achieved through her work as a nurse; all her ailments,  to reach the age of 100 is just so impressive.

“But that was our Aunty Patsy - a unique person who touched all our lives in her own special way.”

The soloist at the funeral Mass was Patsy’s niece Assumpta Donaghy and the reading was by another niece, Aileen Doherty.

Predeceased in 1981 by her husband Leslie, Patsy was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in London with family members offering a rendition of ‘Letterkenny Town’ at the graveside.

Predeceased by her brothers Hugh, George, Liam and Barney and by her sister Harriete, Patsy is survived by her daughter Mary, sister Breid, nephews, nieces, other relatives and friends to whom sympathy is extended.