Tributes paid as popular teacher is laid to rest

Heartbroken colleagues and students of St Patrick’s Maghera were given the day off school on Monday as they tried to come to terms with the death of hugely popular teacher, Marie McGuckin.

Marie died surrounded by her family at home on Friday, May 13, following an illness, and was laid to rest on Monday.

She left behind her husband Patrick and children Michael and Catherine.

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Tributes paid to Mrs McGuckin, who was the school’s Head of Geography, remembered her as “beautiful inside and out”.

The school posted on its social media page following the funeral: “As the sun sets on a very tough few days for the College, it is right that we acknowledge our amazing pupils and staff, who today carried out their very difficult duties with such dignity. Mrs McGuckin would be very proud of you all. Thank you to everyone who sent messages of sympathy - your kind words mean so much. St Patrick, pray for her.”

The school also streamed a prayer service in memory of its much loved colleague, inviting members of the public to join online.

On Monday, the day of the funeral, another poignant and beautiful message was posted by the school: “Today we lay our beautiful colleague and much loved friend Marie to rest. We will always remember her kindness, compassion and care for her students and colleagues. We will miss her warmth, sense of fun and smile that lit up every room.

“Marie’s faith never wavered throughout her illness, she was an inspiration in death as in life. We know that you will be watching over us and guiding us as we adjust to a world without you. Rest in peace our beautiful angel.”

Many hundreds of comments posted on social media were testimony to the impact of Marie McGuckin on people’s lives.

Maresa Higgins wrote: “Rest in Peace beautiful lady. You have touched the lives of so many with modesty and grace. You will live forever in the hearts of your students who were lucky to have had you as their teacher and greatest advocate. Was privileged to have known you. You have earned your place now with the angels. Sincere condolences to Paddy, Michael and Catherine.”

Marie McGuckin’s death caused widespread sorrow far beyond the Maghera area.

Bellaghy Chapel posted on Facebook: “Mrs McGuckin’s pastoral care to pupils and staff has left a deep mark and her legacy will be felt for generations to come. We were very lucky to have such a great woman to support and guide our children.”

Under one of the school’s posts, Kieran Dallas wrote: “Deepest sympathies on the loss of Marie. I’m sure I speak on behalf of all in Dungiven when I say we are standing by your side at this tragic time. RIP Marie. Thoughts are with her family, relatives, friends and those she worked with and taught.

Staff and pupils at a school at which the late teacher formerly taught also expressed their condolences.

A statement by St Columba’s College Portaferry staff said:

“Marie’s former colleagues and students are deeply saddened to learn of her passing. She was a much loved and highly respected colleague and teacher.

“Marie made an outstanding contribution to the college in her roles as Head of Geography and Form Teacher. She was a dedicated, caring and inspirational teacher and friend. She maintained contact with many former colleagues and always spoke very fondly of the happy years she spent in St Columba’s. A

“ll of us who were privileged to know her extend our deepest sympathy to her husband Paddy, her children Michael and Catherine, to her parents, siblings and her colleagues and pupils in St Patrick’s College, Maghera. May her gentle soul rest in everlasting peace.”