Irish golfer Shane Lowry poses with his wife, Wendy, and daughter, Iris, after winning the Open Championship July 21. CNS/Petter Arvidson, pool via Reuters

Irish parish shares in Lowry’s Open win

By  Chai Brady, Catholic News Service
  • July 25, 2019

CLARA, Ireland -- After Mass-goers’ prayers for golfer Shane Lowry were answered, there was “tremendous excitement” in his rural parish, said Fr. Joe Deegan, the local priest.

Lowry returned home to the small parish in Ireland’s Midlands region and received a hero’s welcome July 23 after winning the Open Championship, one of golf’s four major championships, two days earlier.

During the competition, many people were struck by the image of Lowry’s mother, Bridget, clutching a statue of St. Anthony at the course in Portrush, Northern Ireland.

Deegan, priest at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church in Clara, described Bridget Lowry as a “very active parishioner” and a woman of “great faith.”

“She has a very strong devotion to St. Anthony,” he said.

As a youth, Shane Lowry was an altar server at the parish. During Masses July 20 and 21, parishioners prayed for his success.

“We ... included him in our prayers of intercession; there was great anticipation. The whole place, you can feel a buzz around the town,” Deegan said.

He said he prayed that “the Lord’s peace would be upon him in his endeavours, like all people involved in sport, that they would know something of God’s glory and goodness in their lives.”

Lowry, 32,  began playing golf at age 12 but was also involved in the local Gaelic Athletic Association club; however, golf won out over Gaelic football.

“As a parish, as a community, we feel very proud of Shane as a native, and his family, I mean they’re lovely people, good solid earthly people, and it’s great for Clara. It’s a small town, it’s not on any major tourist map or anything like that, but it may change now,” said Deegan.

“There’s a great feeling of pride and elation ... it’s given a great boost to the community,” Deegan told The Irish Catholic.

Lowry won the 148th Open with a six-stroke victory over Tommy Fleetwood, becoming just the fourth players in the last 50 years to win his first major by more than five shots. 

 The tournament marked the first time in 68 years that the Open was played in Northern Ireland.

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