She was an inspiration, a true friend, a wonderful teacher and a devoted wife, mother and granny.
These are just some of the words that have been used to describe the very special Maire Cassidy who passed away peacefully at the Foyle Hospice on Thursday.
The former St Mary’s College teacher and member of the Pink Ladies had bravely fought cancer since 2004.
Her daughter Eibhlin said her mammy was a born teacher who was devoted to her job and St Mary’s College where she taught modern languages for many years.
“She just wanted to get the best out of all children,” she said. “She really loved being a granny to Aimee.
“She was a very outgoing person and welcoming to everybody. She loved spending time with other people, she was completely selfless.
“The Pink Ladies’ group was a big thing for her and she loved going to the meetings. She loved the company of other people.
“Mammy loved spending time with people and helping them out, she never wanted anything in return.
“Even when she was sick and people would ask her how she was, she would ask them how they were.”
Maire’s husband Tom said his wife had been extremely brave in the face of cancer which she had first been diagnosed with in 2004.
“In 2010 she was diagnosed with bone cancer,” he said. “Then liver cancer. Then Maire had a huge heart attack.”
He paid tribute to the staff at the Foyle Hospice who looked after Maire the three times she went in.
“The Foyle Hospice were great,” he said. “Maire also went to day care and loved getting her hair done and her feet massaged. A few weeks ago on the night of the Hospice ball she wanted to buy the nurses there a take away. That was the kind of her.
“Maire wasn’t afraid to die but she didn’t want not to live. She was thinking of the life events that would be happening when she was gone, such as the day her daughter would get married.
“She had a great faith and that kept her going. She had great support from family and friends and that meant a lot to her.”
Daughter Eibhlin said that at the funeral service on Sunday, pupils from St Mary’s College and Derry’s Pink Ladies formed a guard of honour outside the church.
“During the wake so many people called to the house,” she said. “They said Mammy was an inspiration. She was so well liked. There were so many lovely stories about her. Mammy loved fund-raising especially for the Hospice. Since she died £808 has already been fundraised for the Foyle Hospice. So she’s still giving, she never stopped giving.”
Moving tributes have been paid to Maire on the Pink Ladies facebook page. One said: “Thank you for being such an amazing teacher, and such a beautiful woman inside and out.”
A former pupil said: “Mrs Cassidy was a fantastic teacher and friend. She will be missed, She made us believe we could achieve anything we wanted in our lives and careers.” And another: “A beautiful soul with an incredible sense of humour. An amazing teacher and now a beautiful angel.”
Maire, who was laid to rest on Sunday following Requiem Mass at St Eugene’s Cathedral, is a daughter of the late James and Phyllis Doherty and is survived by her husband Tom, children Eibhlin and Tom and grand-daughter Aimee.