Lives Remembered

Siobhan McQuaid: Master conductor and gifted musician delighted in success of others

Siobhan McQuaid's achievements included winning the UTV choir of the year competition in 1998

"YOUR battle is now over Mum, but we are proud to say you were the greatest person we ever knew."

This evocative line from her children's final tribute summed up Siobhan McQuaid.

Siobhan joined the staff of St Brigid's High School in Omagh in 1977 as a music teacher, having just graduated from Queen's University.

She was an immediate hit with both staff and pupils with her good looks, her warm, witty personality and her great love and knowledge of music.

She was a gifted pianist, violinist, accordionist, tin whistler - in fact there wasn't an instrument Siobhan couldn't play. She collected awards with ease, both as an individual and with her children as well as with her pupils.

At feiseanna, fleadhs, festivals and Scór competitions Siobhan set the benchmark. She and her protégés were the ones to beat but beating them was a rarity.

Nurturing talent was Siobhan's forte and her dedication to realising potential was evident in her children's successes in All Ireland competitions which were a source of great satisfaction.

Probably her biggest achievement was winning the UTV choir of the year competition in 1998 with her 100-strong choir.

She blew away the judges and enthralled the audience with her unaccompanied arrangement of Peter Piper and choirmasters and mistresses from all over Ireland sought out her arrangements and copied her techniques.

Siobhan mastered various repertoires of music, ranging from classical to Irish traditional to musicals. She staged many shows, with her critically acclaimed production of The Sound of Music the highlight of her prolific career.

A master conductor of choirs, Siobhan's achievements extended in her later career to the Duke of Westminster High School, Kesh where she formed a choir that was well known and recorded various CDs.

She loved her pupils dearly, bringing out the best in them, and they in turn loved her and wanted to do their best for her. She saw her pupils as individuals, treating them as equals, yet retaining their respect for her authority.

Siobhan was called on for weddings, funerals and anniversaries and because of her love of others and life-long desire to go the extra mile for friends and family, she never refused. Every performance was perfection.

She was never motivated by egotism or desire for recognition or power. She just delighted in doing things well and the success of others. That was Siobhan simply getting on with the task in hand and making a good job of it.

She personified the best of her generation whose dedication and sense of duty really did make a difference in people's lives.

Her later years were hard when her illness returned but what was amazing about Siobhan was she continued to live her life in such a way that nobody knew what she was experiencing apart from her family and friends.

Her final days in hospital were suffused with a sense of peace and happiness. She had her life's work complete.

She brought her family and loved ones together and made sure they were serene and happy and bade farewell before she departed quietly and in peace.

Siobhan McQuaid (née McCaughey) died aged 64 on June 1 and was buried beside St Macartan's Church in her native Trillick, where her month's memory Mass will take place on Saturday July 13 at 8pm.

She is survived by her husband Tom, children Mark, Joseph, Anne, Mary Kate and Michael, her parents Tommy and Moira, brothers Dominic, Thomas, Damian, Canon Shane and Cormac and sister Noelle.

In life greatness settles on a few and Siobhan was certainly one of them.

She was a dear friend and colleague. We will miss her greatly.

Lig go mbeadh ceol ar Neamh.


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Lives Remembered