A distinguished academic in the Irish language was honoured by the Ulster University yesterday, in a special graduation ceremony at his Moneymore care home.
Retired priest Fr Harry Coyle (77) was conferred with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his 'lifelong dedication to the promotion and teaching of the Irish language.'
Fr Coyle, who was born in the Waterside area of L'Derry, taught in Dungannon for decades and has published dozens of books on the language.
The ceremony was hosted by Four Seasons Health Care and was attended by the Ulster University vice Chancellor Paddy Nixon and a gathering of Fr Coyle's closest friends and academic acquaintances from down the years.
Moneymore Care home manager Ailish Devlin said it was a pleasure for the home to host the event.
“It certainly is a one off for us, we have never hosted anything like this before. Fr Harry has been with us since 2012 and he is a pleasure to have as a long term resident," she said.
"When the University contacted us Harry was initially reluctant to receive the award and that is a measure of his humility. However some close friends persuaded him to go ahead and the team from the university were so accommodating in bringing the graduation ceremony to Moneymore.
“Harry is a very special person and the tributes read out to him today show the depth of respect and admiration there is from the University staff, his former teaching colleagues and pupils from St Patrick’s in Dungannon and among the wider Irish language community. It was a very special day for Harry and for all of us here at the home.”
Fr Coyle studied at Queen's University and is fluent in a number of languages. He started teaching in 1965 and entered the priesthood in 1977.