TRIBUTES have been paid to “trailblazing Irish language activist” Diarmuid Ó Tuama who sadly died on Tuesday morning.

The Shaws Road man was a former principal of the first Gaelscoil in the North, Bunscoil Phobail Feirste, an author, an historian and a life-long Irish language pioneer. 

He touched the lives of so many people in the community and will be remembered by many past pupils of the Bunscoil as “An Máistir”.

Diarmuid Ó Tuama’s son, also named Diarmuid, shared a heart-breaking tribute to his “hero".

In a Facebook post, Diarmuid wrote, “We sadly lost my daddy this morning. I haven’t enough words to describe how much he meant to me. He was my daddy, my hero, my friend, my everything. 

“I'm devastated but also happy in the fact that he didn't have to face a long and daunting task of facing long and prolonged cancer treatment. 

“He took me to my first match in Casement, in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Croke Park. He taught me Irish, he taught me how to strike a sliotar among many, many things. 

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh tú a dhaidí. Grá ollmhór go deo and as my da would have signed off on messages... UP CORK. Grá mór da.”

Irish language pioneer and Shaws Road Gaeltacht resident Máire Mhic Sheáin shared the enormous impact Diarmuid Ó Tuama had on Bunscoil Phobail Feirste.

“Myself and (husband) Seán had so much respect for Diarmuid. I worked in the school with Diarmuid and I saw the amount of work he did and saw the improvement his teachings had on my own children. 

“He was a hard-working and a brilliant teacher. Firstly, he made sure that he had a high standard of Irish himself, he studied it and was very hard-working making sure to give the children a high standard of Irish. 

"He was an author and wrote many books and also had a big interest in sport and encouraged the children to play sport, both the girls and the boys. He also encouraged music and played the tin whistle. 

“The biggest thing he had an interest in was history and especially local history. He taught the children about the local streets and the area. The children learnt about the place names. He also had a lot of interest in nature. So, the children received a full education from Diarmuid and that is one of the reasons that the school improved. Diarmuid was a huge part of that. He did everything he could for the school and for the children.”

Former Bunscoil Phobail Feirste pupil Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said that he was “lucky to call him my teacher and my friend".

“Tá Laoch ar Lár. Diarmuid Ó Tuama was a pioneering Irish language educationalist and teacher, a proud Gael, a dedicated republican, a historian and author. He was a loving husband, father and Daideo. For many of us he was and always will be An Máistir. 

West Belfast MLA Gerry Carroll took to Facebook to offer his condolences. “Saddened to hear about the passing of Diarmuid Ó Tuama today. Diarmuid was – amongst other things – a trailblazing Irish language activist, educator, and scholar. From my experience, he was an all-round sound guy. 

"My sincere condolences to his family, friends, and to the wider community who will no doubt feel his passing. Go raibh suaimhneas síoraí air.”

Irish language school, Gaelscoil na Móna paid tribute as Gaeilge. 

In a post, the school wrote: “The Community of Gaelscoil na Móna would like to express their sincere condolences to Clann Uí Thuama on the death of the hero Diarmuid.

“The wealth Diarmuid has left for the people of Belfast is greater, through our language, culture, patriotism, sports, music and craic. We are grateful for his golden life and we are heartbroken to you our friends, Bunscoil Phobail Feirste."

Naomh Eoin CLG also paid tribute saying: “With sadness and indeed shock, we have learnt of the passing of our esteemed member Diarmuid Ó Tuama. To his wife Elaine, and children Séamus, Brónach and Diarmuid we send our condolences."

Funeral Mass for Diarmuid will take place at St Oliver Plunkett Church on Saturday at 11.00am.