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Trad musician and teacher Éamonn Ó Faogáin was ‘truly awesome talent', funeral told

The coffin of Éamonn Ó Faogáin leaves St Mary's Church in Belfast after his funeral Mass. Picture by Ann McManus
John Monaghan

A TRADITIONAL singer, teacher and gaeilgeoir who died following a short illness was a "truly awesome talent", a priest has told mourners at his funeral.

Éamonn Ó Faogáin, who was a teacher at St Colman's Primary School in Lambeg, Co Antrim, died on Wednesday.

He was buried at Milltown Cemetery on Sunday afternoon following funeral Mass, conducted in both Irish and English, at St Mary's Church in Chapel Lane, Belfast.

It was the church where Mr Ó Faogáin, who was in his early 50s, sang every Sunday at the 11.30am Irish language Mass.

The talented singer had represented Ireland at the Lorient Festival with Ceoltoirí Rosa and also sang for the President of Ireland.

He was a founding member of the Cór Loch Lao, an Irish language choir based at the Cultúrlann in west Belfast.

Fr Alan McGuckian SJ, speaking in both languages, said that while he would be remembered for his love of music, hurling and the arts, "there will be people here who just knew a lovely, genuinely good man."

He said: "This is the place where he came every Sunday to lead us in song....this is the place where he met his God every Sunday.

"Éamonn's commitment to his music is the stuff of legend. It flowed out of him in a way that enriched all of our lives."

The Jesuit priest added: "Éamonn was such an attractive person in his gentle quiet way that you couldn't know him and not love him."

Recalling an event in 2013, Fr McGuckian described how one veteran stage manager, Paddy McPoland, was left stunned by Mr Ó Faogáin's musical abilities.

He said: "During sound checks Paddy turned round and said: 'Who is this guy? How come I haven't heard of him before?' He was awestruck....Éamonn was a truly awesome talent."

"We don't know what we have until it is gone.....There was something uniquely special about Éamonn's voice."

Fr McGuckian added: "I can't imagine anyone listening to Éamonn singing anything and not being moved at some deep level about the beauty of the world and the beauty of God."

St Colman's posted a photograph of Mr Ó Faogáin on its website and said he was an "esteemed colleague" who "will be greatly missed by us all."

Mr Ó Faogáin is survived by his mother, sisters and wider family circle.

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