There was a large turnout for netball icon Marie Mackney's, 79, funeral at Woodlawn in Lismore. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
There was a large turnout for netball icon Marie Mackney's, 79, funeral at Woodlawn in Lismore. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Moving service for 'Mother of Netball' Marie Mackney

LISMORE has farewelled its "mother of netball" Marie Mackney, who died last week after a long illness.

Friends, family and politicians filled the St John's College Woodlawn chapel yesterday. Netballers from around the region came together under various club banners to form a final guard of honour for the woman described by mourners as the "mother of netball" in Lismore.

Despite the 79-year-old's wishes to "not make a fuss or get sentimental", mourners, who included Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell and MP Thomas George, packed out the chapel in a moving service.

Mrs Mackney's son Steve said: "All the fuss being made about mum is completely contrary to what she would have wanted. Sorry, mum, but this is one thing we cannot deliver for you as you deserve much more."

There was a large turnout for netball icon Marie Mackney's, 79, funeral at Woodlawn in Lismore. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
There was a large turnout for netball icon Marie Mackney's, 79, funeral at Woodlawn in Lismore. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

A remembrance speech by Brian, the brother of Mrs Mackney's husband Bernard, painted the netball matriarch as a hard-working family woman who loved a sale and a long chat.

"Marie Mackney was born Marie Therese Flynn in 1936 in Casino, the first child of Thomas and Gladys Flynn," Mr Mackney said.

"Marie attended St Francis Convent School, Ballina, which introduced her to her first netball team, known as basketball at that time.

"Marie was widely known and highly respected in all netball circles. The presentation of a NSW Sports Award in March (last year) endorsed by Netball NSW for 63 consecutive years of contribution to the sport, was a fitting tribute and accolade.

"Marie loved each of her 10 grandchildren and she was their most enthusiastic cheerleader."

But it was his poignant story of Mrs Mackney's relationship with her 103-year-old mum which made for the most moving moment of the service.

There was a large turnout for netball icon Marie Mackney's, 79, funeral at Woodlawn in Lismore. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
There was a large turnout for netball icon Marie Mackney's, 79, funeral at Woodlawn in Lismore. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

"Marie idolised her mother Gladys and they shared a bond that was blessed by a rare longevity," he said.

"Upon Gladys celebrating her 103rd birthday (in) January this year, mother and daughter were able to share a quiet moment.

"Marie bravely insisted to her mother that she was okay, despite the challenge that she faced and the family credits Marie's strength and faith during her own indescribable mountain to climb, with giving Gladys the resilience to find her peace while now grieving the loss of a daughter."

The service, led by Father Michael Nugent and Father Nicolas Maurice, concluded with a rousing version of Ave Maria.

Pall bearers were Luke, Paul and Thomas Mackney, Matthew Toohey, Paul Nipperess and Mark Flynn.



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