Staff and pupils at Dominican College, Fortwilliam have paid tribute to teacher Michelle Donaghy, who passed away following a battle with a rare illness. The 33-year-old sociology teacher, who died this week, was praised by the school not just for her teaching ability, but also for her enthusiastic contribution to Dominican College, which also included work in the fields of music and religious education, and as a Co-ordinator of Personal Development for pupils.

Michelle, who was originally from Dungannon, had suffered from Behcet’s Disease, and but continued to teach despite the debilitating illness, which affects the immune system.

Dominican College Principal Sally McGahan said Michelle “enriched the lives” of pupils and fellow staff, and described how her enthusiasm for those she taught made her one of the most popular teachers in the school.

“Despite a debilitating illness, Michelle’s energy and enthusiasm for the extra-curricular life of the College seemed boundless, her generosity of spirit, unstinting and her good humour unflagging,” Ms McGahan said.

“Her sense of fun was infectious. It was typical of Michelle that she was the Staff Secret Santa. She also loved music, and was a talented bodhran player and a beautiful singer. Thanks to recordings that she made we will always have her voice.”

The principal also praised Michelle’s strong religious faith, and recalled her love of the Tyrone GAA football team, and how she proudly bedecked the school staff room in the squad colours of red and white when the county reached the All-Ireland Final in 2008.

“Ultimately it is as a friend that Michelle will be most sorely missed, not just by her colleagues but by many of their families in whose lives she came to play such a part,” Ms McGahan added.

“Her love of children was obvious and Michelle delighted in their company. Quite simply, Michelle Donaghy was a wonderful human being and we are all so much the better for having known her.”