Northern Ireland

Ireland international lawn bowler remembered for her skill on the green - and love of work and gin

Marie McCord, who died in a tragic accident last week, mourned and celebrated in a service attended by many in the bowling community and beyond

From left: William Wilson, Marie McCord and sister-in-law Gladys Steed

One of Ireland’s top lawn bowlers was remembered not only for her skill on the green, but also her dedication to work and enjoyment of gin.

The life of Marie McCord (72), who died in a tragic accident outside her Belfast home last week, was mourned and celebrated at a service at Antrim and Newtownabbey Crematorium.

At the service, William Wilson, who lodged on and off with Ms McCord in her Innisfayle Gardens home for 13 years, recalled talking to his friend about death and how she might be remembered.

A police car blocks the road at the scene of Ms McCord's tragic death last week.

He asked her and she replied: “Bowls, work and gin.” “Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Mr Wilson said.

“Many a night we would sit down and watch soap opera after soap opera just to have her say ‘what a load of s****’ at the end,” Mr Wilson told the gathering.

”Little did she know she would have a soap opera death, front page news no less.”

Bowls was Ms McCord’s passion, said Mr Wilson, adding: “Bowls mirrored Marie, competitive, sociable, a team player.”

From left: Ann McDaid, Marie McCord, Linda Vance and Sandra Bailie MBE after winning the British Isles Fours in Ayr last June

She played all over the world at the highest level and, when not competing, was watching and supporting others, he said of the Ireland international, capped first in 2010.

“Marie was known for waking me up at 2am because the YouTube steam to bowls in Australia was not working.”

Mr Wilson added: “The outpouring of shock and emotion from the bowling community is testament to Marie.All those who played with Marie knew what an honour it was to represent Ireland.”

From left: Marie McCord, Gladys and Roy Steed

His friend also had a “a really strong work ethic”, still working for Clanmil Housing when she died but just months from full retirement.

“All those who worked with Marie have spoken of her dedication and upfrontness. No matter what person you were, Marie had the same way of speaking to you, direct and with common sense.”

But she was also “the life and soul of any party or celebration”, Mr Wilson said.

“Many a time I would have come downstairs to find her and her good friend Anne righting all the wrongs in life or discussing bowls or politics a couple of bottles deep. Once met, never forget.”

Ms McCord was fatally injured on Tuesday a week ago outside her home following an accident involving her own car. The accident happened after she returned home and was removing items from the car.