Tributes to ‘inspirational teacher’

Teacher Gavin McNaney.
Teacher Gavin McNaney.

Tributes have been paid to a former teacher at Saint Catherine’s College in Armagh who died on Saturday after a short illness.

Gavin McNaney (37) was described by principal Noeleen Tiffney as “a gentleman” and “an inspirational teacher who endeared himself to staff and pupils”.

The Armagh man had taught French and Spanish at the school for three-and-a-half years, up until June 2014.

Mrs Tiffney said, “He had so much life still to give and how it was taken from him in the end is desperately at odds with the positivity, good health and optimism he displayed on the last day he came to visit us in school, bearing chocolates and thanks.”

Head of music Dr Eunan McCreesh described Mr McNaney as “a great philosopher who, in a manner of jest, would quote Descartes or Camus effortlessly”.

He added, “A fond lover of music, whose passion was playing guitar, he displayed particular prowess in playing Bluegrass and melodic lead riffs to BB King.

“He loved books, film, art and, of course, his food and bodybuilding/keeping fit.”

Staff and pupil representatives will celebrate Mr McNaney’s life at his funeral service tomorrow (Tuesday) in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.

They will offer up symbols of his “37 years well lived” including French and Spanish flags to reflect the love of languages he instilled in his pupils, assuring them that languages open doors to new experiences.

A globe of the world will symbolise the thirst he had for travelling the world, having visited countries on several continents, while a guitar will represent his love of music and his skill at playing.

A smoothie flask will remind the congregation of his dedication to health and fitness. Said Mrs Tiffney, “Gavin was always well-groomed and smartly dressed. He regularly attended the gym and had a penchant for beetroot shakes and spinach smoothies.”

One of his pupils said, “He was a brilliant teacher, he always made our classes fun. Everybody loved him.”

Mr McNaney is survived by his mum Nuala, dad Pat, aunts, uncles, cousins, family circle and friends.