Northern Ireland

Loretto Coyle: Former St Mary's lecturer imparted love of outdoor life to generations of teachers

LORETTO Coyle's career in education spanned almost 30 years as a lecturer in sports and physical education in St Mary’s University College.

Her caring and vivacious personality enabled her to make lifelong friends and she will be remembered warmly by generations of teachers to whom she imparted her love of the active outdoor life.

A native of west Belfast and former pupil of St Dominic’s Grammar School, Loretto had studied PE at the University of Ulster and was a keen sports student.

She spent summers climbing in the Alps and was selected to represent Northern Ireland in netball, touring with the team in New Zealand and the Carribean.

As a teacher she would also voluntarily arrange and accompany her students on sports, climbing and camping trips all over Europe and the USA.

Loretto settled in Newcastle in 1992 where she became an active part of the community.

She had a particular interest in its social and cultural heritage and was a member of the Lecale and Downe Historical Society.

She also played golf in the Royal County Down club, sang in the Mourne Community Choir and was a leading light in the Mourne Rambling Group.

Early retirement in 2006 allowed her to focus on a rich programme of energetic pastimes, including as a qualified mountain guide for visitors to the Mournes.

As a Blue Badge tour guide, she also provided knowledgeable backgrounds to some of our most beautiful and historic locations farther afield, most often for cruise ship visitors to Northern Ireland.

Together with her partner Gordon, Loretto enjoyed numerous cycling, walking and winter sports holidays, from the Alps to the Rockies and the Andes.

But she had a special affection for the Mournes, and most Sunday mornings could be found hiking mountain trails with Gordon and the Mourne Ramblers.

Coming from a large family herself, Loretto had many nieces and nephews who were able to spend summer holidays in Newcastle.

In any given August, she could be seen with up to a dozen eager youngsters climbing up Slieve Donard, walking along Murlough Beach or cycling between Dundrum and Newcastle.

Full of life and energy, Loretto was also an accomplished dancer.

Her students will recall her strong views on the teaching of dance in primary schools, and she she was able to persuade many initially reluctant male students of its importance for child development.

Until her illness with cancer in 2019 she taught salsa, ballroom and Latin classes in Newcastle's Annesley Hall for a faithful band of local dancers.

She also worked with many prospective newlyweds on their “First Dance”.

Loretto and Gordon would regularly spend Saturday evenings at the Burrendale Hotel, hoping that the live music would be suitable for dancing, and they would take to the floor at every opportunity, although in truth, Loretto could dance to any music.

She had a strong Christian faith which underpinned her vitality and love of life.

Her lively and generous spirit will be deeply missed, not only by Gordon and her family, but also by a wider circle of friends across Co Down and beyond, with whom she shared her many enthusiasms.

Loretto Coyle passed away peacefully on February 14, a few days after her 73rd birthday.

Predeceased by her parents James and Kathleen and siblings James, Desmond and Marian, she is survived by her sisters Ita and Ursula and brothers Brendan, Tim, Gregg, Raymond and Paddy.