Fr. Harry honoured for life-long dedication

Rev. Fr Harry Coyle who was awarded a honorary doctorate by Ulster University today in recognition of his lifetime of achievements in Irish language teaching and scholarship. Pictured with Fr Coyle are Professor Paddy Nixon and Dr Malachy ONeill, Ulster University. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)
Rev. Fr Harry Coyle who was awarded a honorary doctorate by Ulster University today in recognition of his lifetime of achievements in Irish language teaching and scholarship. Pictured with Fr Coyle are Professor Paddy Nixon and Dr Malachy ONeill, Ulster University. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)

A Derry priest has been conferred with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his “lifelong dedication to the promotion and teaching of the Irish language.”

Waterside native, Father Harry Coyle, was conferred with the special honour from Ulster University at the Four Seasons Health Care Home in Moneymore, where he now lives.

The ceremony was hosted by Four Seasons Health Care and was attended by Ulster University Vice Chancellor Paddy Nixon and a gathering of Fr. Harry’s closest friends and academic acquaintances from down the years.

Fr Harry Coyle was born in the Waterside in 1940, and studied languages at Queen’s University.

He is fluent in a number of languages. He started teaching in 1965 and entered the priesthood in 1977.

Fr. Coyle has published a number of landmark books on the Irish language.

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,” she said. “Fr Harry has been with us since 2012 and he is a pleasure to have as a long-term resident.

“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 accept it and the team from the university were so accommodating in bringing the graduation ceremony to Moneymore.”

Ailish Devlin added: “Harry is a special person and the tributes read out to him 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,” she added.