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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Showband legend Joe Lowney leaves behind a musical legacy

The late Joe Lowney.
The late Joe Lowney.

Wexford town lost a musical maestro last week with the passing of Joe Lowney.

Joe who turned 87 years old in December died on Thursday, January 22 following a period of ill health.

Joe's name is synonymous with music and it was a love shared by his late wife Isabel and together they ran the Lowney Music Shop and Lowney School of Music for 40 years.

Joe always had a great interest in music and started playing the accordion in the 1940s. He went on to play with his brother John in a band before establishing the Joe Lowney Show Band and later the Joe Lowney Orchestra and the Luxembourg Show Band.

The bands toured extensively throughout Ireland and UK throughout the 1950s and the early 1960s.

Joe also spent four years in London between 1959 and 1963 furthering his own knowledge of music and he studied music there under a number of renowned music teachers.

Joe left the orchestra in 1963 and went on to revive the Wexford Light Opera Society. In 1965 he conducted the Yeomen of the Guard which saw the Society win an award at the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera.

He also directed the choir in Rowe Street Church between 1981 and 1984 and was also the organist there during that time.

In the late 60s he met Scottish woman Isabel Brady while she was holidaying in Rosslare.

Joe who would have been a regular musician at the Golf Hotel there caught her eye and the couple went on to marry in 1969.

At the Peter Street home they raised their two children, Ronan and Eamonn. The couple shared a love of music and Isabel was a fully qualified music teacher.

They established the Lowney School of Music in 1969 and the Lowney Music Shop in 1971 and there they taught thousands of people across Wexford how to play various musical instruments and also gave invaluable advice about musical purchases.

Joe could put his hand to almost any instrument and make it sing. He was very accomplished on accordion, piano, guitar, recorder, flute, clarinet and saxophone.

The music shop closed in 1999 and the school of music in the early 2000s although Joe himself continued to teach for a number of years after that. Throughout his lifetime he has some association with the majority of musical groups in Wexford.

For six years, between 2002 and 2008 Joe acted as a full time carer to his beloved Isabel who suffered a debilitating stroke. As a result he became involved with the St Bridget's Centre and helped to raise funds for the centre as well as organising musical events there.

He often organised various charity events including the Rwandan appeal of 1994.

In the past six years Joe had become a keen traveller and spent time in Spain where son Eamonn lives, in Italy, Paris and Austria.

A smoker for 75 years Joe developed COPD and moved into Knockeen Nursing Home in May 2012 where he was very content. Although he suffered little bouts of ill health as a result he was able to maintain his independence and only spent one day in bed before his death.

Joe was pre-deceased by his wife Isabel and survived by sons Ronan and Eamonn, grandchildren Lucas and Edu, brother Tony, sister Kathleen, daughter-in-law Junea, extended family, relatives and friends.

His remains reposed at Knockeen Nursing Home with removal on Friday last to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Rowe Street.

Funeral Mass took place on Saturday with burial afterwards in St Ibar's Cemetery, Crosstown. His Requiem Mass was celebrated by Fr Michael O'Shea. Cyril Murphy and his daughter Ruth played the organ and sang respectively.

Long time friend and fellow show band musician Don Sadler played the trumpet a number of times throughout the service and he also played the band's signature tune 'The Way You Look Tonight'.

Wexford People