Lynette Fay: Shane Lowry's granny Emily Scanlon was the real star of the Open

There really has been no escaping golf over the past few weeks. It was announced this week that the Ryder Cup will be hosted in Adare Manor, Limerick in 2026...

Shane Lowry with his grandmother Emily Scanlon and the Claret Jug during the homecoming event at Clara GAA, Clara in County Offaly
Lynette Fay

AS DISINTERESTED as I was in the Open Championship, I found the down-to-Earth manner in which Shane Lowry carried his win to be compelling. Lowry captivated the imagination of people from all over the island of Ireland; golf lovers and loathers alike.

That said, however, for me the hero of the week was not Shane Lowry. The day after his historic win at the Open, although Shane had won over many new fans, his granny unwittingly stole the show, by being herself. Emily Scanlon was filmed at home on Monday talking about her now world famous grandson.

No Irish win in anything is complete without the media speaking to every member of the family, and Granny Scanlon delivered: she spilled the beans on her brandy drinking to cope with the nerves and how Shane’s feet are kept firmly on the ground. I hope someone made him bring in the turf this week!

Shane proudly gave his granny pride of place on the main stage at his homecoming in Clara, Co Offaly on Tuesday night. It looked like Granny enjoyed every second.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a granny all my life. My Granny Fay died when I was seven, but I do remember her as a very kind woman – and anyone who knew her confirms that when they speak of her.

My maternal grandmother, Nóra, has been a constant in my life and I know exactly how lucky I am to have her. Before home births were a thing, Granny came into the world at home, on the Brick Row in The Moy, Co Tyrone on the banks of the river Blackwater, a few years after the partition of Ireland.

On Friday evenings, until I reached my teenage years, I went to Granny’s in the Moy for the weekend. For some reason, I packed a basket and off I went. Goodness knows where the basket idea originated, but that was my ritual. Granda would collect me, off I went and I didn’t return home until Sunday evening.

Adventures with Granny were great. When I think about it, I was her shadow. She baked the most delicious bread. Wheaten, soda – but the treacle bread, straight out of the oven, with lashings of real butter, was the best. She made jam and was a wonderful cook in her day.

I went to work with her sometimes, I did ‘the messages’ for her. She went through a phase of watching wrestling on Saturday afternoons, and called it ‘beautiful bodies’. She always had a wry, sharp sense of humour. Still does. She had us all crying with laughter at one of her one-liners just last Sunday.

Granny is very wise, and still shares that wisdom. She had no choice but to leave school at a very young age so she could work and earn money. She has lamented her lack of education all her life, and as a result, has helped me in every way she could to acquire the education she could only dream of.

She is full of old sayings which I have been promising to write down, like 'she’s not as slow as she walks easy' and 'you will never catch that monkey dozing'.

Granny spoiled my brother and I with treats and love. I see my parents doing the same thing for their growing brood of grandchildren. It’s the way of the world.

The relationship between grandchild and grandparent is very special – for those of us lucky enough to experience it. My nieces and nephews will eventually fully understand how lucky they are to have a set of great grandparents in their lives, but they will. They adore Granny, and she is all about the babies and the ‘childer’.

She is a typical Irish Mammy too, in that the boys can do no wrong in her eyes!

Now that I am much older, and as our immediate family grows, I understand the practical support that granny gave my parents, particularly to Mummy. She was constantly there to provide support, no matter what. Now that she is older, it’s up to us to turn the tables and spoil her with the simple things in life that make her day.

The love and respect Shane Lowry showed his granny is yet another reason to love him. Here’s to Granny!

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