The husband of the late teacher, Patricia (Pat) Keys, has paid tribute to his beloved wife who meant “everything” to him.

Pat (81) passed away unexpectedly at her home in Irvinestown on November 3, 2020. Pat’s heartbroken husband, Henry, spoke fondly of his late wife of 56 years, whoM he first met on a badminton court in Kesh.

Love at first sight

“It was love at first sight, she meant everything to me and I think we complemented each other. We had a good marriage,” reminisced Henry.

One of five daughters of William and Emily McCullough, Pat was born on St. Patrick’s Day, in Co. Cavan. At a young age she moved with her family to the Co. Down area, where they settled on a small farm outside Newtownards.

She attended Regent House Grammar School and soon found that she had an aptitude for languages and French in particular.

From Regent she went on to Queen’s University to study French and Spanish.

After completing her degree one of Pat’s early jobs was at a private boarding school in Hertfordshire. She made up her mind then that she wanted to pursue teaching and spent a year at a school in Bordeaux, as an English Language Assistant.

When Pat returned home from living in France, she took up a teaching post in Co. Fermanagh at the Kesh Intermediate Secondary School, later known as the Duke of Westminster High School, and she taught there for over 30 years.

Great conversationalist

The family were moved by the number of messages from former staff and pupils at the school, recalling fond memories of her as a teacher.

Described by her husband as a “great conversationalist”, Pat had many close friends and always made time for people.

She was an avid reader, with a particular interest in history.

Pat was very much a family person and loved to spoil her grandchildren. Henry commented that they both felt “very blessed” to have their family close by.

The family’s interest in rugby saw the couple travelling all over Ulster to watch matches involving Portora, Enniskillen Rugby Club and, more recently, Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, where two of their grandchildren are regulars in the current first XV.

A number of their teammates formed an impromptu ‘guard of honour’ at Pat’s funeral last Thursday (November 5).

A guard of honour was also formed by the Irvinestown Bowling Club, which Pat had joined in later years. More than the competition she really enjoyed the social aspect of bowling, Henry said.

Wider community

A member of Derryvullen North Parish Church in Irvinestown, Pat was very involved in church activity, including the Mothers’ Union and Ladies Group. She was also a member of Irvinestown Community Association where she enjoyed working with the wider community.

Henry emphasised how grateful the family are for the many messages of sympathy and support.

He noted how nearly all the tributes referred to her as “a real lady” and to her kind and gentle nature.

Pat’s funeral was conducted by Reverend Canon Paul Thompson and arrangements were by WT Morrison Funeral Directors.

The service took place at Derryvullen North Parish Church followed by burial in the adjoining churchyard.

Beloved wife of Henry, dearly loved mother of Alastair (Morna), Nicola (Crispin), dear grandmother to Ciara, Connor, Rory, Angus, Henry, Edward and Scarlett, devoted sister to Hazel, Margaret and the late Joan and Irene, Pat is lovingly remembered by her family and friends.