Northern Ireland news

Derry schoolteacher taught 'love, kindness and tenacity'

Sean O'Kane (41) was defined by his work as a schoolteacher

A SISTER of schoolteacher Sean O’Kane said her brother taught not just academics but “love, kindness and tenacity”.

Mr O’Kane (41), died on Friday following a long illness. A former English and drama teacher at St Joseph’s boys’ school, his funeral took place yesterday with Requiem Mass at St Columba’s church, Long Tower.

Well-known in football circles, he was also an avid Celtic fan and coached various school and local sides. Many of those attending his funeral wore Celtic jerseys.

In a family tribute, Mr O’Kane’s sister, Ciara told mourners that her brother’s occupation as a school teacher was what truly defined him. She said Mr O’Kane was known by many people as “Mr St Joe’s” because of his dedication to his pupils and fellow-teachers.

Ms O’Kane said: “He was not just a teacher of academics but of live, kindness and tenacity in the face of adversity.”

She said her brother never complained in the eight years since he was first diagnosed with cancer.

“Sean had infinite love for everyone he met,” Ms O’Kane said.

Fr Patrick Baker later told mourners Mr O’Kane loved St Joseph’s, its pupils and staff. Fr Baker said the large numbers who attended yesterday’s Requiem Mass was evidence of his popularity. To say Mr O’Kane would be “sorely missed” was an understatement, he added.

“He was very much a Derry man, through and through,” Fr Baker said.

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