TRIBUTES have been paid to the late Fr. Fintan McKiernan, a "hardworking, dedicated and caring" retired Derrylin priest who "always put others before himself" who passed away suddenly but peacefully at his home on April 21.

Describing the late 79-year-old priest as a "people's man", Fr. Fintan's successor at Knockninny Parish – Fr. Gerard Alwill – said: "He was a good priest, a dedicated priest, who put others before himself. He was always willing to help others, and would always see to them before he'd see to himself."

Born in the parish of Templeport between Bawnboy and Ballyconnell in 1942, Fr. Fintan was ordained on June 18, 1967 and was appointed that September to the teaching staff of St. Patrick's College, Co. Cavan, where he was a teacher of science and mathematics.

Fr. Gerard said: "With St. Patrick's College being a boarding school, it had a farm. He also spent some of his time there as what they would call Farm Bursar.

"It was a position for which he was particularly well-equipped, because of his own interest in matters farming.

"He was regarded as a very popular and well-liked teacher, and a good teacher because he was able to mix the serious business of teaching with a bit of fun and banter," added Fr. Gerard, who was also a former student of Fr. Fintan's at St. Patrick's.

He noted how Fr. Fintan enjoyed "good-natured slagging" with his students.

In 1982, Fr. Fintan moved out of St. Patrick's College and became a curate in Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim.

A few years later, in 1988, he went on to take on the role of curate at the Leitrim parish of Glencar.

It was in 1998 that Fr. Fintan came to Derrylin as parish priest of Knockninny Parish, where he quickly endeared himself with the people of the parish.

"He enjoyed the company of people; again, he enjoyed the fun and banter. People appreciated his quick sense of humour and wit," said Fr. Gerard.

Fr. Fintan served the people of Knockninny Parish until his retirement in 2017, some 19 years.

During that time, he worked tirelessly for the good of the parish. At a practical level he oversaw the renovations of the sanctuary in St. Ninnidh’s Church and the rewiring of the building.

In the area of education, he oversaw the construction of the new St. Ninnidh’s Primary School, and was always very supportive of St. Mary’s Primary School and St. Aidan’s High School.

However, it was in his pastoral role that he touched the lives of so many people in the parish, and further afield.

A tribute to Fr. Fintan, which was shared in the Knockninny Parish Bulletin, read: "He was especially caring towards families at times of illness or bereavement.

"Over the years, Fr. Fintan got to know nearly everyone in the parish and developed deep and lasting friendships with many of his parishioners.

"The huge number of people who attended his farewell function in September, 2017, bore eloquent testimony to the high esteem in which he was held by all.

"For them, he was a hardworking, dedicated and caring priest who always put their good before his own."

Beautiful tributes to the beloved priest were also shared by schools, organisations and clubs in the Derrylin area.

Following his retirement, Fr. Fintan was appointed as a helping priest in the parish of Kildallen.

"There was a priest house vacant there so he moved into that. He would say local masses and cover masses for absent priests," said Fr. Gerard.

Talking briefly about Fr. Fintan's interests, Fr. Gerard said: "As a young fella, he would have played Minor football for Co. Cavan, but I think his real hobby and his real interest was his people."

The funeral of Fr. Fintan took place on Saturday, April 24 at Kilnavart, his own home parish church, and as was his will, he was buried in Derrylin that afternoon.

Predeceased by his brothers Gerry, Eugene and Edward, his death is deeply regretted by his nephews, John (Orla) and Fintan (Jennifer), niece Carmel (Andreas), grand-nephew Seán, nieces Alice, Louise and Eva, Bishop Martin Hayes, his fellow priests in the Kilmore diocese, relatives and a large circle of friends.

"He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him," added Fr. Gerard.