Northern Ireland news

Funeral to take place of respected Co Derry principal killed after tree struck car

Francis Lagan
Mairead Holland

A SCHOOL principal who was killed when a tree fell on his car on Friday has been remembered as a dedicated school, club and family man who improved the lives of many young people.

Dozens of tributes have been paid to Co Derry man Francis Lagan, the head of St Mary's Primary School in Maghera.

Mr Lagan, who was married with four children, was driving along the Dublin Road in Antrim as high winds hit the area during Storm Arwen.

His funeral will take place on Tuesday at 11am in St Patrick’s Church, Glen, with interment in the adjoining cemetery.

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen said she had been privileged to visit Mr Lagan's "wonderful school" and described him as a "dedicated and passionate principal" who will be greatly missed.

Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney said Mr Lagan was a "highly respected principal" who had made an immense contribution to the community which he served and was a "renowned Maghera educationalist and civic leader".

"My thoughts and sympathies are with his family, school colleagues and students, and the wider community of Maghera, where he was held in very great regard," he said.

Just three weeks ago, Mr Lagan was among those celebrating the opening of his school's new 4G pitch.

He was also a long-standing member of the board of Cumann na mBunscol Dhoire and in a post on Twitter, Doire GAA mBunscol said: "Little did we know!.... how little time we had left to enjoy this giant of a man".

Derry GAA paid tribute to him as a "caring and leading figure in our community, where he helped improve the life of many young people in our schools and clubs".

Mr Lagan's GAA club CLG Watty Graham said he was a "great club man, coach, principal, colleague, mentor, friend but more importantly a fantastic son, brother, husband and daddy.

"We as a club and community will stand strong with the Lagan family in the days, weeks and months ahead."

The club tweeted a photo of Mr Lagan with a number of their senior footballers as they brought the John McLaughlin Cup to Glenview earlier this month.

And St Patrick's College in Maghera, where Mr Lagan had been a pupil in the 1990s, also paid tribute to him on social media saying education in south Derry had lost "a giant in his prime".

Among the other online tributes was one from a friend and retired principal who said Mr Lagan had been "so many things to so many different people because he reached out and touched so many lives".

"Francis was devout, a family man, a scholar, a Gael, a larger than life personality... To me, above all those things he was a good friend," he said.

Another said he had known Mr Lagan from he was 11 years of age attending Dromantine camp, and that Mr Lagan had joined him on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 2005 with a group of children.

"A big man with the heart of a lion. A gift to all who met him," he added.

Mr Lagan, who was the nephew of the late Bishop Francis Lagan, is survived by his wife Louise, children Rose, Alice, Beth and Frank, and the extended family.

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