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Dungannon teacher who passed away just months after retirement was ‘loved by all pupils’

A County Tyrone teacher who passed away just months after retiring was “loved by all pupils who had a great respect for her”.

Mourners at the funeral of Paula McEldowney, who spent 27 years at St Patrick’s College in Dungannon, heard how she was an “easygoing, kind, generous and humble” person who was well-respected by all those who knew her.

Fr Sean McGuigan, who presided over Requiem Mass, said family, friends and the wider community were greatly saddened by Paula’s sudden passing and at such an early age.

“God would surely welcome Paula home because as you all know, here’s a woman of great faith and a good Christian who trusted in God,” said Fr McGuigan.

Paula was born in Moortown on April 17, 1970. She attended Derrychrin Primary School and furthered her education in St. Mary’s Convent, Magherafelt before going off to St. Mary’s Teacher Training College in Belfast.

Paula’s main subject was religious education. She also taught geography and was head of careers at St. Patrick’s College.

Fr McGuigan continued: “Paula loved walking and lived for going on holidays to places such as Spain, the Canary Islands and Florida. She had a great interest in the 80s music scene; pop music and heavy metal were her favourites.

“All pupils loved her and they had great respect for her and what she taught them. She was firm, but fair. She was easygoing, kind, generous and humble. She lived for her family, took one day at a time and loved her own wee corner where she kept herself to herself.

“She was a generous person who would never have said a bad word about anybody. She valued people and reached out to others and she was a loving example of the prayer of St. Francis – in giving we receive.

“Paula’s life was centred on her family and her faith. When we think of Paula we think of the blessings and talents which God bestowed on her, her good good nature and kindness ensured she was loved and respected by all you had the pleasure of meeting her and as we heard in our reading today, from St. Paul, be friends with one another in kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you and Christ. That was Paula MaEldowney.

“Paula took ill on the 20th of November last year. She accepted her illness with great dignity and strength, and never ever complained during this time.

“The family wish to give a special mention to her Aunt Teresa who was a great source of comfort to Paula during her time of illness. We sympathise with the family and with the whole family circle, neighbours and friends and their bereavement.

“They will take consolation from their own faith and from their Christian hope of eternal life. And they will treasure her memory and the part she played in their lives and the encouragement she gave them and the example of her own life.

“Paula has had her walk of life, but it just wasn’t long enough.”

Earlier this week, St Patrick’s College, paid tribute to their “much esteemed former colleague”

“Mrs McEldowney retired in August 2020, after 27 years of loyal service. She joined the Boys school in 1993 as a teacher of Religious Education and was committed to faith development spanning across many years and generations in our school community.

“Just last week a pupil asked Mr Kerr if Mrs McEldowney would ever be returning as a teacher in the College – such is the warm affection and regard pupils, both past and present, hold her in. In her later years Mrs McEldowney was also a member of the Geography Department and for a period of time she was Head of the Careers Department.

“She prided herself in good relationships. Mrs McEldowney was a woman of great faith. She marked the festivals and seasons of the liturgical year with her pupils. A common feature in her classroom was a statue of Our Lady and Rosary Beads.

“She believed in quietly working to make a difference and was committed to the pupils in her care.

“We extend our deepest sympathy to Mrs McEldowney’s husband, son and daughter, other family members and her many friends. May her gentle soul rest in peace.”

Dearly beloved wife of Owen, mother of Ruairi and Laura, sister of Joan-Marie, Don and Colin, grandmother of Kylon, daughter of Sue and the late Terry R.I.P.

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