For almost 50 years, educator Tony McLaughlin “inspired countless children” and “enabled generations of young people to realise their full potential.”
Those were the words of Fr. Noel McDermott to more than 1,000 mourners who had come to Star of The Sea Chapel in Faughanvale to say their last goodbye to the man who had played such an important role in education in the parish for decades.
“An elderly parishioner who I met last Monday commented ‘isn’t it very sad about Master McLaughlin?’ Tony McLaughlin was indeed a master,” said Fr. McDermott.
At his Requiem Mass on Wednesday, Fr. McDermott recalled how Tony, aged 70, came to the parish of Faughanvale and Lower Cumber in 1968, just out of teacher training college. As a young teacher, he began his career at Mullabuoy P.S. and in 1975, aged just 28, he was made principal of Craigbrack PS. Eight years later he was appointed as principal of Broadbridge PS where, for the past 30 years, Fr. McDermott said “he has given generously his time, his talents and his seemingly boundless energy to his beloved Broadbridge and the parish.
“He has enabled generations of young people to realise their full potential and equipped them with the skills for living good and productive lives,” said Fr. McDermott. He described Tony McLaughlin as a “committed Catholic” who recognised the “essential link between home, school and parish.”
“When home, school and parish worked together the result was the Church at its very best,” said Fr. McDermott, who said Tony’s school, “like his mind and his heart was open to people of all creeds.”
The congregation heard of the summer camps in Donegal Tony had organised down the years, and how he’d waken everyone in the morning by clanging dustbin lids together and singing “O what a beautiful morning!”
He also spoke of the school shows he was involved in and how Tony’s great sense of humour would be remembered.
“Someone once said that our lives may be the only version of the Gospel that some people will ever read.
“If that is so, then Tony McLaughlin’s life was a gospel of joy and faith, of generosity and faithfulness, of love and service, of modesty and humility,” said Fr. McDermott. “How blessed we have been to have had Tony McLaughlin as a teacher, a principal, a mentor and a friend in our parish for almost 50 years.”
Fr. McDermott offered his sincere sympathy to Tony’s family; his wife Helen; his children Deborah, Daniel, Suzanne, Elaine and Tony and relatives Adrian, Brian, Natalie and Fiona; his 12 grandchildren, and his sister Josie and brother Martin and the wider family circle.
Fr. McDermott also offered condolences to the staff at Broadbridge P.S.
He added: “Yes, we will indeed miss Master McLaughlin more than words can ever express.”
Following Requiem Mass, Tony McLaughlin was buried St. Mary’s grayeyard, Tamnaherin.
A Book of Condolence has been opened in Broadbridge P.S. for anyone who’d like to call in and pay their respects.