Lives Remembered

Retired headmaster 'quietly crept into everyone's heart'

Fermanagh man Michael Farrell "quietly crept into everyone’s heart"

The way Michael Farrell worked, lived and served his community in many different roles will impact on the lives of others for generations to come.

One of things valued most about the former school principal was his optimistic outlook on life.

GAA members also described him as a mild-mannered, modest man, kind, strong and steadfast, who had a gift of being able to talk to anyone, young or old, regardless of creed or rank.

And in the words of his nieces, Micky "quietly crept into everyone’s heart".

"He was a kind and loving man with an amazing sense of humour. He died as he lived – quietly, peacefully, gently and without any fuss.”

Michael was a native of Derrygonnelly, Co Fermanagh, born near the old RIC barracks on Main Street to Patrick Farrell, the local police sergeant, and his wife Margaret.

He attended the old St Patrick’s and Cornerk primary schools, the Presentation Brothers in Enniskillen and St Joseph’s teacher training college in Belfast.

Michael’s first appointment was St Michael’s PS in Enniskillen in 1948, after which he went to Drumbeggan as principal in 1953.

It was there he met his future wife Nicolina Porrelli who was on holiday from Glasgow.

In 1967, he was appointed the first principal of Killyhommon PS in Boho, remaining for 11 years before becoming head of St Patrick's in Derrygonnelly. He finally retired in 1989.

As a teacher he is remembered as strict but fair, with the odd joke often thrown in to lift spirits.

In 1969 he called a meeting in Derrygonnelly where he shared his vision for the role of a credit union in building the community and promoting mutual support.

The first AGM saw Michael elected chairperson and he remained a committee member right up until his death.

He also made a huge contribution to the Derrygonnelly Harps Gaelic football club.

He was vice-chairman from 1950 until 1967 and chair in 1985-86, and held officer positions at county board level and represented Fermanagh at the Ulster Council, when meetings were conducted entirely through Irish.

For Michael, supporting the community also meant working to bridge gaps, increase understanding and develop a shared future.

He was a founder member and director of Derrygonnelly & District Community Enterprises Ltd, which developed the old creamery site to provide the Tir Navar Centre.

It not only promoted cross-community enterprises, but to this day gives jobs, supports the environment through its field study centre and provides activities and groups to enrich the lives of people young and old.

Michael was also a gifted actor and producer with the Derrygonnelly Drama Group and was a keen fisherman, spending many productive days on local lakes.

In later years he developed an interest in indoor bowls he and Nicolina also travelled to many countries across the world.

A lifelong pioneer, as well as member of the Fermanagh branch of the Knights of Columbanus, his commitment to his faith, his family, and his community were central to his life.

Master Michael Farrell died shortly after celebrating his 90th birthday on July 11.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years Nicolina, daughters Siobhan and Katrina, sons-in-law James and Michael, grandchildren Louise and Kieran, sister Josie and his many nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by siblings Lena, Joey, Rita, Billy, Dessie, Gerald and Moira and nephew Fergus.

Lives Remembered