The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese made a whistlestop visit to the Ardmore home of her uncle, local school teacher and GAA stalwart Patrick Trainor, who passed away. President McAleese attended the wake on Tuesday evening but prior commitments prevented her from being able to be present in person for the funeral.
However, the President was represented at the funeral by her husband, Martin McAleese, who joined the throng of mourners for the huge funeral at St Agnes’ church at midday. As a mark of respect, Holy Child Primary School took the unprecedented step of sending the children home early and closing half-day.
Patrick Trainor, a much loved and widely respected Holy Child teacher, died peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Born in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast, Patrick attended St Patrick’s Primary School in Donegall Street during the 1940s before progressing to St Mary’s Grammar School in Barrack Street.
A keen hurler, Patrick played with Pearse’s GAC in Ardoyne, but that club’s priorities lay with football and so he switched to Eire Og where he won the Junior Championship in 1967. There he played with the Rice family and his wife-to-be’s brother, Declan McManus.
In 1965 Patrick married Ann McManus at Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne, having met her through his sister Josephine. The couple had three sons, Tim, Patrick and Damien, and three daughters, Aine, Roisin and Clodagh, and the family lived in Dalebrook before moving to Ardmore in 1976.
Qualifying from St Joseph’s Teacher Training College, he took up his job in Holy Child Primary School in 1964. He loved his life teaching at Holy Child, and that was reflected in the fact that it was to be the only teaching appointment he ever held, devoting over 40 years to generations of pupils who remember him with fondness.
Through his love and care of the children, he developed the academic, sporting and spiritual aspects of their lives. The welfare of local children was his priority, even outside of work. He organised summer schemes and camping holidays to Newcastle during the dark years of the Troubles to allow the children of West Belfast some respite from the violence of the times. Patrick was also a hard-working youth leader in St Michael’s Youth Club, Finaghy Road North.
As Treasurer, Patrick was involved in Cumann na mBunscoil, the sporting association of primary schools. Helping to organise competitions in the various Gaelic games, including hurling, handball and football, he helped the organisation grow from humble beginnings into the success it is today.
In his last weeks it was apparent how well loved Patrick was in the the constant stream of visitors to his hospital bedside and, finally, in the very large crowd at his funeral. Patrick will be sadly missed by his family, colleagues, pupils, friends and the West Belfast community.
Pat's three sons, Tim, Paddy and Damien, all played for Eire Og in both football and hurling.