Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to former teacher Aidan McAleese

Tributes have been paid to former teacher Aidan McAleese, whose funeral took place yesterday
Connla Young

A PRIEST has described how a thread of "faith" ran through the life of a west Belfast based teacher whose funeral took place yesterday.

Aidan McAleese died on Friday surrounded by his family after an illness.

A large crowd attended Requiem Mass at Mater Dei Church in Crumlin, Co Antrim, yesterday.

The 51-year-old retired from St Genevieve's High School in west Belfast in June after 28 years.

Originally from Moy in Co Tyrone the father-of-two lived in Crumlin where he was a well-known and popular figure.

A lover of sport he was a keen supporter of the Tyrone GAA team, with his brother-in-law Mattie McGleenan a former Red Hand stalwart.

Both a Tyrone jersey and another belonging to his beloved home club Moy Tír na nÓg, of which he was a member, were placed on his coffin during his wake.

An avid supporter of Spurs, a letter sent by officials from the club was also on display.

During Requiem Mass Fr Colm McBride spoke of Mr McAleese's talents and love of sport.

"Aidan was a man gifted with a broad spectrum of talents," he said.

"And whenever possible he placed those gifts in the service of others, in his profession, in friendships and the community.

"Some of it through sport. His level of interest in sport of all kinds might be described as devotional."

The priest also spoke of the former teacher's devotion to faith.

"The thread running through Aidan's life, the one that matters now, was his faith," he said.

"Its genesis in past generations of his family entered his life through his parents May and Joe.

"It was strengthened by the faithful practice and traditions of his upbringing of his home in the Moy."

On his retirement from St Genevieve's High School in June Mr McAleese tweeted: "I retired yesterday from the school that I have loved for 28 years.

"St Genevieve's has been my life and its staff are my family.

"The support that I have received throughout my battle with cancer has been incredible and I know that it will continue. Thank you all so much."

In a message placed on its Facebook page the governors, principal, staff and school community at St Genevieve's paid their own tribute.

"As a subject teacher and head of department, Aidan embodied our Louis ethos every day and was admired and respected by all who knew him," they wrote.

Dozens of Facebook tributes have been left by former students shocked at the news of his passing.

After Requiem Mass Mr McAleese's remains were interred at St James' Cemetery, Aldergrove.

He is survived by his wife Anne, daughters Anna and Éirinn and family circle.

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