TRIBUTES have been paid to an Irish language classroom assistant who left a “profound impact on all” who knew her. 

Gemma McKenna, who was from the Crumlin area, worked in Gaelscoil Ghleann Darach in Crumlin before her untimely death on Saturday.

The Irish language primary school shared a touching tribute to Gemma who was described as a “breath of fresh air".

In a statement, the school said: “We are devastated to hear that our friend and colleague Gemma McKenna died suddenly yesterday. Gemma embodied everything that was wonderful about our school: her love for the children, her positive attitude and her capacity for helping those around her. She was always supportive, caring, thoughtful and a well needed breath of fresh air. 

“She had a delightful sense of humour and a beautiful laugh which will echo around the corridors of the school for years to come. She was a beautiful soul who left a profound impact on all who had the pleasure to be in her company. 

“We extend our sympathy to Gemma’s mum Donna, her Dad Noel, her sister Aoife and brother Cillian and her extended family. We will cherish her memory in our hearts and have been blessed to have known such a beautiful soul. RIP Gemma.”

Andersonstown-based Temple Restaurant, where Gemma previously worked, shared their condolences to the McKenna family.

“Temple Restaurant Belfast staff would like to offer their condolences to the McKenna family on the very sad passing of Gemma. We had the pleasure of having her work for us in our ice cream parlour and she was the nicest girl. Our thoughts and prayers also extend to our friend Pearse, prayers for strength your way.”

Gemma's Requiem Mass will take place at St James' Church, Aldergrove, at noon on Wednesday.