Once a week she is collected from her home by bus at about 9am and makes an hour-long journey to the centre on John B Keane Road, stopping to pick up others along the way.
“When we arrive there is a cup of tea, scones, brown bread and a chat,” she says. “The staff are very nice. Someone will come in to do our feet, our hair or talk to us. Or maybe we do a bit of painting, or arts and crafts.”
Later there is lunch.
Overall, it’s the sense of community she values most. “We all sit around a big table. Have a bit of a laugh and a chat and get to know people.”
Born on February 25, 1929. Joan has had a life-long association with Listowel. “I was born, bred and reared here,” she says. Along the way she developed a strong business sense — her parents ran a pub and grocery under the family name Lynch on William Street.
After completing her studies locally, she headed to Loretto Convent in Dublin at the age of 16 to “finish off” her education. Two years later she sat an exam for the Civil Service and was called up in 1947, working in the Dept of Finance in the historic Dublin Castle. She stayed for 10 years.
During this time, a bout of poor health — the ’flu — forced her to return home and recuperate. While helping out in the family pub, she met her future husband Tom Patrick Walsh. .
Like every woman of her generation, there was no question of working once she said ‘I do’ in Rathmines church on June 28, 1955. The newly married couple took over a family pub, Buckleys, in The Square, Listowel. They lived upstairs, where Joan reared their four sons, while running the business.
When Tom, a Mayor of Listowel and urban councillor, died at the age of 62, Joan continued to work with the Active Retirement group, helping to upgrade and maintain the town. One project was renovating St Patrick’s Hall for the local community. It is now used for social groups.
Her son Jim is taking part in the Ring of Kerry Cycle Tour to raise funds for a new Árd Cúram building on the grounds of Listowel Community Hospital. “When it’s built, I might go two days a week,” says Joan.