‘Ann was our family as well’: Hundreds join vigil to remember woman who died while sleeping rough

Ann Delaney (47), who had been homeless for at least seven years, was a familiar figure on Aungier Street

Several hundred people gathered to pay their respects to a 47-year-old mother who died sleeping rough in Dublin city centre.

Ann Delaney, a nurse and mother of a 17-year-old daughter from Crettyard, Co Laois died around 9am on Sunday close to a Tesco Express supermarket on Aungier Street.

Ms Delaney, who worked in a Dublin hospital, is understood to have been homeless for at least seven years, firstly on Thomas Street before moving to Aungier Street. She regularly stayed at a spot next door to the supermarket.

Numerous flowers and candles have been left at the spot where she slept and her body was discovered and a crowd gathered to mark her passing on Monday evening.


Jackie Feeney, who got to know Ms Delaney when she first slept rough on Thomas Street said: “I sat with her here overnight at 11pm and we would have a chat and a coffee. A man went to buy her something in Tesco’s and when he came back out she was gone.”

“Two close relatives died in her life in a car crash and that affected her badly,” she added. “She was very close to her mother and her daughter who is doing her Leaving Cert. I tried several times to come to my place but she wouldn’t.”

From about 7pm people began to gather at the makeshift shrine in her memory before the vigil began at 8pm. Scores of members of the public held red and pink balloons in her memory and released them as her favourite song, Crazy World by Aslan was played out over a sound system.

Chris O’Reilly, who runs the Liberty Soup Run told the crowd, which blocked traffic on the street for a time, that “everyone knew Ann”.

“She was just an amazing person, an amazing woman. She had rough times in life like us all and unfortunately Ann ended up on the streets.

“She never saw her way out (of what she was going through) God love her, she’s at peace now, she’s out of pain. This is for Ann’s family as well, we are all behind you. Ann was our family as well. We classed her as a sister. She loved Liverpool soccer club and that’s why there are so many people holding red balloons.”

Mr O’Reilly added: “To see all of this support is just incredible. As a community and wider community, there are people here from all over. Ann was a gem, she was such a lovely lady.”

Mr O’Reilly added that Ann would be missed “so much” and appealed to people to attend her funeral to show their respects to her and her family.

A lady originally from Co Mayo but now living in Rathgar, explained that she wanted to attend the vigil to pay her respects as she chatted to Ms Delaney every Saturday before mass at Whitefriar’s Street Church.

“She was lovely to chat to and a lovely person. It can be anybody’s story.”

Chris O’Reilly, who runs the Liberty Soup Run, said Ms Delaney was a “lovely lady, a real character” and that many people would have known her.

“She was alive early on Sunday, but then she suddenly became unresponsive. We don’t know her cause of death – whether the dropping temperatures might have been a factor or not,” he said.

“Paramedics were called, but unfortunately Ann passed away. We are heartbroken and lost for words. Another homeless person died on our streets and it’s just so wrong.

“Ann was a lovely lady and was well-liked. She was just going through a hard time. She had a family and a life and she just fell on hard times.”

Family members had attempted to intervene over the years to help Ms Delaney, but she refused help, he said.

Mr O’Reilly said Ms Delaney had endured a lot while living on the streets, and had been beaten up on at least one occasion. “Ann slept rough, as she was afraid to stay in the homeless hostels. Her family would come to visit her to see how she was. She loved music and Aslan and was a wonderful poet.”

“She had such a lovely heart. She would talk about life and stories. She never talked about anything depressing,” said Victoria Murray, who worked around the corner.

“I remember when I was promoted, she gave me a little bottle of wine. She would give you the shirt off her back.”

Ms Delaney’s remains are understood to have been taken to the city morgue and her funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.

A family notice on rip.ie was published on Monday, reading: “Ann Delaney, Dromagh, Crettyard, Co Laois/Carlow, February 25th at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, aged 47 years.

“Beloved daughter of Mary and the late Tom. Sadly missed by her loving daughter Saoirse, mother, brothers Thomas, John, Ciaran and Paul, sisters Siobhán, Tricia, Roisin and Emer, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, relatives and a wide circle of friends.

“Funeral details are expected to be announced in the coming days.”

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times