Tributes to ‘inspirational’ ex-principal of Cookstown school
Former pupils and colleagues of an ex-principal of Our Lady’s School have praised her as having a ‘delightful smile’ and epitomising ‘elegance and calmness’.
Mairėad Quinn, who taught for 24 years at the Cookstown secondary school, passed away peacefully after a short illness on March 14, aged 70. She was surrounded by her family at her Collegeland home.
Mairėad taught Irish and Religion in Our Lady’s High School, and was Principal from 1991 (following the sudden death of former Principal, Mary Seery) until its amalgamation with St. Patrick’s High School, Cookstown in 1993, when the school was renamed Holy Trinity College.
Her career highlights inculde the fact that she was a fluent Irish speaker and helped Our Lady’s win the Father Murray Shield (Competition amongst Ulster secondary schools for spoken Irish) on many occasions.
She also travelled overland to Rome with a large number of pupils and other teachers for an audience with Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the school’s 25th Jubilee Year.
Past pupils have recalled fond memories of “a respected, spiritual teacher”, described her as“inspirational,” “a motherly figure and a complete professional at the same time” and as a “a lady with a delightful smile who epitomised elegance and calmness always.”
Mairėad also taught Maths and Irish in St. Patrick’s Girls’ Academy, Dungannon from 1965-68. She served as Sacristan in St Peter’s Church, Collegeland, initially helping her own mother (Maura) until Maura died in 2000. Her mother had been Sacristan since 1953.
Born Mairėad McParland on 8 September 1944 in Collegeland, she was the eldest child to her parents Jimmy and Maura McParland. Many past pupils and former colleagues attended the funeral on 16th March in St Peter’s Church, and current pupils represented Holy Trinity College.
She is survived by her husband Kevin, children Fiona and Ronan, grandchildren: Ciara (15), Clare (13), James (8), Joseph (2), Marie-Thėrèse (2), her sister Angela, and her brother Gabriel.