Northern Ireland news

School principal Francis Lagan 'the very best husband and most loving endearing daddy', mourners hear

The funeral of school principal Francis Lagan. Picture by Hugh Russell

SCHOOL principal Francis Lagan had a "profound sense of home and community", his grieving widow said at his funeral today.

The 40-year-old, from Brackagh in Co Derry, died on Friday afternoon after a tree fell on his car during Storm Arwen.

Mr Lagan, who was married with four young children, was driving along the Dublin Road in Antrim when high winds hit the area.

Mourners at St Patrick’s Church, Glen, heard today that the large crowds who lined the route of the funeral cortege were reflective of the "high esteem" in which Mr Lagan was held.

Francis Lagan coaching his school team

Children from St Mary's Primary School in Maghera, where Mr Lagan was principal, attended his funeral, along with representatives from other schools.

Mr Lagan's wife Louise, who married him in Rome in 2010, told mourners their support had been invaluable.

"The outpouring of love and support from far and wide has been overwhelming and it is appreciated more than anyone will ever know," Mrs Lagan said.

She said the funeral offertory gifts, including his Watty Graham's GAC Glen jersey, reflected her late husband's many passions.

Pupils waiting before the funeral of Francis Lagan, principal of St Mary's Primary School in Maghera. Picture By Hugh Russell

"He always had a profound sense of home and community," she said.

"He was a proud Glen man who revelled in all their sporting achievements."

Mr Lagan, who was the nephew of the late Bishop Francis Lagan, was educated at St Mary's University in Twickenham, London.

Mrs Lagan said her husband had enjoyed his eight years living in London.

"Only he could acquire his very first professional job, in Holy Cross Primary School Fulham, over a pint," she said.

School principal Francis Lagan was laid to rest today. Picture by Hugh Russell

She added that Mr Lagan felt the pull of home and was happy to return to Brackagh in 2008.

"He loved all his teaching roles, built positive relationships with his staff, relished the challenges and rewards that came with the job and consistently felt privileged to be a principal," she said.

"He loved the craic and the camaraderie of his fellow principals."

Mrs Lagan said her husband was a man "who, in his own words, was all about the weans".

"The Christmas portrait on the altar represents Francis' greatest love, pride, passion and joy - his family," she said.

"Francis was, frankly, the very best husband and most loving endearing daddy to our children."

She added: "Francis' happiest days were his wedding day in July in Rome in 2010 and the days that marked the birth of our beautiful children, Rose (eight), Alice (six), Beth (four) and Frank (three).

"These four children sitting in front of me were undoubtedly Francis' greatest achievements.

"I will continue to instil his profound values - faith, family, hard work, education, community and good manners.

"We will honour his memory."

Mrs Lagan said her husband, "like his mother Mary" had "strong unwavering devotion to Our Lady" and had made frequent visits to Lourdes and Knock.

Mr Lagan was laid to rest in the adjoining graveyard of St Patrick’s Church, Glen.

Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin and Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown extended their sympathies to the Lagan family.

St Mary's University in London will celebrate Mass in memory of Mr Lagan on Monday December 6 at 1.05pm in the University Chapel.

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