Lives Remembered

Aidan Walsh: A legacy of love, learning and laughter

Aidan Walsh always met the world with a smile and during a packed life, cut tragically short, he spread enough happiness for several lifetimes.

As a teacher at St Patrick’s College, Ballymena he was an inspiration to his students, his personality and positivity lighting up the classroom and firing young minds.

In sport he was a talented player and beloved teammate who overcame serious injury to help drive All Saints GAC to success.

And it was while doing what he loved that he died, collapsing without warning after captaining a team of fellow teachers to victory in a charity five-a-side match against sixth formers, in front of a cheering crowd of pupils holding a banner bearing his name.

Although a devastating loss for the school community, the countless tributes from staff and students have celebrated the incredible impact he made and the legacy of love and laughter that he leaves.

Aidan was just 37 when he died, having been born in May 1985 just minutes before his twin brother Tiernan, the youngest of four children who enjoyed a happy childhood on the outskirts of Ballymena.

His impish sense of humour was apparent from an early age and he took school and any challenges in his stride, excelling at St Mary’s PS, Harryville, St Louis’ Grammar School and St Mary’s teacher training college in Belfast.



Sport was always a huge part of his life, starting with soccer in primary school and then hurling and Gaelic football at All Saints GAC.

With their father Michael as joint manager, he and Tiernan were midfielders together in a team that won the south west U14 championship before representing their county in the U16 Buncrana Cup.

Aidan was blessed with a magic left foot but his speed and tenacity made him a formidable opponent anywhere on the field.

His determination would be sorely tested by two ACL ruptures, the first as a 16-year-old on the Antrim minor football squad and the second just a year after battling to full fitness.

However, setbacks which would have forced many others from the game only made him more focused and he became a key player along with Tiernan and older brother Fintan in the senior team, winning the club’s first intermediate football championship title in 20 years in 2008.



He would go on to enjoy rugby with Rainey Old Boys in Magherafelt as well as golf.

Music was another passion and Aidan learned the drums and tried his hand at singing and songwriting, gigging with friends in a band.

He met his wife Anne when they were students at St Mary’s and shared accommodation in west Belfast.

Married in 2012, they had a son, Cian, and daughter, Caitlin, who would find themselves the chief targets of their doting father’s love of practical jokes and fun.

While Anne became a teacher at St Comgall’s PS, Antrim, Aidan joined the staff at St Patrick’s College, where he taught PE, geography and travel and tourism.

It was only after his death that his family learned the true extent of his impact.

Hundreds of pupils and ex-students attended his wake and flanked the funeral cortege, which stopped outside the school as well as Slemish Park GAA grounds. He was described in tributes as a brilliant teacher and brilliant man, who was loved by the entire student body.

One post said: “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.”

A moving letter to his parents from a teammate in the U14 championship-winning team also described how even at that age, Aidan had inspired him to achieve and do the best he could in life.

At his funeral at St Comgall’s Church in Antrim, Canon Sean Emerson spoke of Aidan’s goodness and kindness and how he lived for his wife and children.

“He worked hard as a teacher, trying to influence young people, encouraging them in the challenges they meet, to give them heart and be courageous in making the choices they would in life,” he said.

He also told how Aidan always liked to have something to look forward to in the future, whether just a dinner with friends, a weekend away or a holiday.

His sister Aisling described his excitement about joint family holidays with Fintan, where he could indulge his penchant for flourescent shorts and pink shirts and play tricks on his nephews and nieces.

She said he would be dearly missed by all who were fortunate to cross his path, not least his loving wife, children, parents and siblings.

“As a family we knew how great Aidan was, but we are so truly overwhelmed with how he was held in high esteem by all of you, from staff and pupils at St Patrick’s to All Saints GAC and all our family,” she said.

“Beloved husband, father, son, son-in-law, uncle, friend, nephew, cousin, teacher, colleague and our darling brother, we will love your forever. Fly high and we will meet again soon.”

Aidan Walsh died on February 10. He is survived by his wife Anne, children Cian and Caitlin, parents Michael and Maria, and siblings Tiernan, Fintan and Aisling. 



Lives Remembered