Northern Ireland

Book of condolences opened for popular Ballymena teacher and father of two who died suddenly

Aidan Walsh
Aidan Walsh

STUDENTS, parents and members of a Co Antrim parish streamed into a school gym today to sign a book of condolence for a popular teacher who died suddenly.

Aidan Walsh, a teacher at St Patrick’s College in Ballymena and a member of All Saints GAC, will be buried following a funeral Mass on Wednesday.

The club led tributes following the death of the father of two last Friday, noting the “sense of deep shock and immense sadness”.

He was described as a “fantastic underage star” in both football and hurling who overcame a serious knee injury at 16 to play a part in the senior set up. This included helping in 2008 All Saints to win its first Antrim Intermediate Football Championship in more than two decades. He played alongside his brothers Fintan and Tiernan.

“He was instrumental in our club winning its first underage silverware in many years when, along with his twin brother Tiernan, he led our under 14 footballers to the South West championship,” the club said.

The team was coached by his father Michael, a long time club committee member.

All Saints said Mr Walsh was also a skillful hurler but his development was hampered by the serious knee injury.

"Not one to let injury deter him Aidan's hard work ethic, enthusiasm for sport and love for All Saints GAC saw him strive to return. Aidan worked relentlessly on and off the field to get back to playing," the club said.

“His hard work and positive mental attitude were a great example to all of his team mates." He went on to play for the minors, under 21 and seniors before heading to England for teacher training. On his return, Mr Walsh became a key player for the club, including as part of the team that won the intermediate football championship.

"A great man, talented player and beloved teammate who never missed a training session, complained, or challenged a manager or referee. He had a love for the game, his team mates and All Saints GAC."

St Patrick's College, in a statement, said: "It is with great sadness that we share this news. This news has come as a great shock to all of us at St Patrick’s where Aidan taught for over 12 years. Aidan will be greatly missed within St. Patrick’s and the whole school community. We were blessed to have had Aidan in our lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with Aidan's wife and family. May he Rest In Peace."

In a post on social media, one of his former pupils added: "You inspired, empowered and motivated so many young people and I’m sure that myself and every other pupil you ever taught will forever appreciate the impact of having you as a teacher had on our lives."

Mr Walsh is survived by his wife Anne, children Cian and Caitlin, parents Michael and Maria, and siblings Tiernan, Fintan and Aisling. Following requiem mass in St Comgall's Church, he will be buried in Belmont Cemetery.