TRIBUTES have been paid to a nun who devoted four decades of education as a head teacher at schools in North and West Belfast.

Sr Jacqueline O'Reilly (89) passed away peacefully in hospital on Saturday following a short illness.

Originally from Dublin, after completing her teaching degree and joining the Dominican Sisters, she began teaching at Dominican College Fortwilliam in 1959 and became principal in 1963.

A teacher of French, English and Religious Studies, she left to lecture at St Mary's College on the Falls Road from 1970 to 1972 before returning as head teacher at Fortwilliam once more in 1973.

She also served as principal at St Dominic's Grammar School on the Falls Road from 1984 to 1992 and was on the board of governors of Dominican College, Portstewart.

She retired from teaching in 1998.

Orla O’Neill, Principal of St Dominic's, said: "Sr Jacqueline was an inspirational and innovative educationalist.

"Ahead of her time in advocating the education of young women in times of great social change.

"She endorsed, lived out and exemplified the philosophy and ethos of Dominican education.

"She was a skilled linguist herself having introduced Japanese to the curriculum and was the forerunner for the implementation of Education for Mutual Understanding.

"She was an advocate of the holistic approach to educating the child with emphasis in life beyond the classroom.

"She was a formidable leader and a wonderful practitioner and very witty with a great sense of humour."

A spokeswoman for the Dominican Sisters in Belfast said: "Sr Jacqueline was well-respected and everyone talks about her vision as a educationalist."

Sr Jacqueline's funeral took place yesterday (Wednesday) with Requiem Mass at St Therese of Lisieux Church, Somerton Road, followed by burial in Dominican Convent Cemetery on the Falls Road.