TRIBUTES have been paid to a stalwart of the Irish language community who has passed away. 

Gearóid Mac Cumhaill passed away peacefully at in home West Belfast on 8 July. 

A founder of the charity TACA, his visionary efforts secured vital funding for Irish language projects and schools across the city and beyond.

Serving the Irish language community in a variety of roles, he was also the first ever treasurer of Meánscoil Feirste. 

Shaws Road Gaeltacht founder Séamus Mac Seáin described Gearóid as a hero of the Irish language community. 

In a tribute given in Irish Séamus said: "Gearóid was one of those heroes without recognition who worked quietly and efficiently for country and language, without receiving or looking for thanks. 

"A loyal member of Chumann Cluain Árd in the 'glory days' in 1960s and 1970s when the foundations for much of the progress of the Irish language in the city from then were laid.

"In the long years past he founded, through his own ingenuity, the organisation TACA to support Irish medium education when government money wasn't available.

"There are many Irish medium schools that wouldn't have lasted without Gearóid and TACA.

"He was a pillar of support for the Irish language Mass in Belfast for many years until the pandemic struck."

Séamus said Gearóid's wife Fiona and son Ciarán had lost an amazing husband and father.

He described him as a "gentleman", adding "we will all miss him".

Speaking in Irish, Pilib Ó Ruanaí, Director of Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta – the Trust Fund for Irish-Medium Education – said: "Although Gearóid was small in stature, he was a giant of the Irish language community, who did tireless work on behalf of the language over the years. 

"TACA raised over a million pounds over the years, and that is a testament to the Gearóid's work. He was a quiet person, who did his work quietly and without praise.

"His passing is a huge loss to his family, but it is also a loss to the Irish language community in Belfast.

"He was a treasurer for a school that hadn't a penny, but those are the obstacles that he was ready to overcome," he added.

"Above all else he was gentleman. He treated everyone with dignity and respect. He was an amazing man."