Liam Mac Lochlainn: A gentleman and a scholar
In the course of our line of work, you encounter people from all walks of life, and on rare occasions you encounter someone so kind, patient, thoughtful and talented that over time they become someone you have great admiration for. Liam Mac Lochlainn was such a person.
Like generations of former St Columb’s College pupils, I first encountered Liam as a form teacher at Buncrana Road in the early 90s but not having any particular gift for languages I never kept up Irish and was never taught by him.
Fast forward a few decades and I was surprised to see him as a regular visitor to the Derry Journal offices when I returned here. I wasn’t aware then that Mr McLaughlin (or ‘Sir’ as male teachers were collectively referred to by students), had been a regular Journal columnist for years.
Through those years he penned various columns, most recently An Bhfuil Gaeilge Agat? (Do you have Irish?) in Irish.
With this column Liam has helped generations of beginners and provided articles of interest, food for thought for those fluent in our native tongue.
Over recent years he would regularly call into the office and never failed to provide a quiet few words of encouragement, something you rarely hear in our line of work. I have often thought of those words in moments of self-doubt. I think of them now too and I see what sort of teacher he must have been.
He was an inspiration to so many - at the College, at the Feis, and during the regular meet-ups to converse in Irish he hosted at the Central Library up until recent times.
At the start of the pandemic, he proposed composing Irish lessons, Gaeilge agus Fáilte, a tradition he kept up along with his Friday column until recent weeks. He was that dedicated.
To us here at the Journal, Liam, with his quiet passion, kind words and unassuming manner was not only a gifted and reliable contributor, but a friend, and our thoughts are with his family at this time. R.I.P. Liam. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.