26 May 2022

Tributes as founder of Limerick charity passes away

Tributes as founder of Limerick charity passes away

Novas founder Joe McGarry photographed at the publication of the charity's 2017 annual report | PICTURE: OISIN MCHUGH

WIDESPREAD tributes have been paid following the sad passing of the founder of Limerick-based homelessness charity Novas.

Joe McGarry was laid to rest today in his native Co Antrim.

Having spent decades being homeless in London before turning his life around, Joe established the first Novas service in Limerick back in 2002, Bridgeland House in St John's Square.

The charity's facility in St Alphonsus Street is named in his honour.

Dr Una Burns, the policy director of Novas, said: "He never left anyone behind. He never judged anybody. He was respectful to everybody he met. He taught us how to treat people with dignity in a non-judgemental way and support people who want better for themselves."

She said the charity staff feel "like his second family."

Novas's former head of homeless services Anne Cronin added: "It's hard to put into words the impact this man had on me and others lucky enough to know him. The founder of Novas in Ireland - one of life's truly inclusive and non-judgemental people."

She added that while he was not defined by his time without a home, the cause of homelessness "certainly insired him."

In its own social media tribute, Novas added: "Joe was at the forefront of service development in Novas. Having been homeless on the streets of London for decades, he used his lived-experience of isolation, vulnerability and homelessness to create services that meet the needs of people on the fringes of society."

Right up until his passing on Saturday, he remained a member of Novas.

"He helped Novas to develop services that accepted people as they were, people entrenched in addiction and people who had experienced significant trauma in their lives. For many, these services were the first places they every felt accepted. This is his legacy. It was a pleasure to know him and to learn from his empathy, his insight and his empowerment," Novas added.

Survived by his wife Mary, Joe's funeral Mass took place this lunchtime at St Comgall's Parish Church in Antrim.

May he rest in peace.

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.