Family’s moving tributes to popular principal killed after tree fell on car
Mourners at the funeral of primary school principal Francis Lagan heard he was the “very best husband” and “most loving” father to his four children.
Mr Lagan died after a tree fell on his car amid Storm Arwen on Friday.
During the service at St Patrick’s Church in Glen his children described him as a “gentle, fun-loving giant”, while parish priest Fr Paddy Doherty said the local community was “richer for having known him”.
The 40-year-old was principal of St Mary’s Primary School in Maghera.
Dozens lined the route outside the church as the coffin was carried in, while pupils from the school and players with Watty Graham’s GAA club stood in tribute.
Wife Louise told mourners Francis enjoyed many “happy days”, none more so than his wedding in Rome in 2010 and the birth of each of his “beautiful children”.
The pair met while Mr Lagan was training to be a teacher at Strawberry Hill in London, where he worked for four years before returning home.
“These four children sitting in front of me were undoubtedly Francis’ greatest achievements. I will continue to instil his profound values — faith, family, hard work, education and good manners,” she said.
“We will honour his memory.
"Francis is gone in body but his legacy is strong and vibrant.
“Francy the legend will live on.
"May my gentle, beautiful husband, my best friend, who blessed and graced my life, rest peacefully in the kingdom of Heaven.”
Fr Doherty noted the family had lost Mr Lagan’s mother Mary just eight weeks ago, and said his unexpected death had left the community “stunned”.
“We cannot take it in,” he added.
The priest said Mr Lagan had a “place in so many hearts”, and said the family was struck by “confusion and grief”.
“At times like this, as we feel helpless, we are shaken and try to make some sense of it,” he said.
“As Francis is loved so much, the loss is even greater.
“Francis always looked on the bright side, the full glass, and always sought many pockets of goodness and hope around him, as he cherished the good around him.
“In St Mary’s he achieved much, and reflecting on his leadership role, he often told me how fortunate and blessed he felt to be leading St Mary’s.”
He reflected on how much Mr Lagan “appreciated and valued” everyone at the school and said he wanted “so much” for every child to achieve their potential.
“He took time to welcome people with a smile,” he added.
“He set out to make it the best he could and he did make a difference in our lives and the community and beyond.
“Francis made friends easily and his influence spread far. He made an impression on those who knew him. A ‘people magnet’, willing and obliging. We are richer for having known him.
“Our best and final tribute to his memory would be to go on living to find the truth, as he did. That great sense of dignity and respect — he instilled those values to family, school and children. Today we give thanks for what he has given, for what he has been, and to his family we extend our support and care at this time.”
Mr Lagan is survived by Louise and children Rose, Alice, Beth and Frank, father Brian, and sisters Roisin, Maura, Anne and Brenda. Following the service, Mr Lagan was buried in the adjoining cemetery.
His tragic death led to many tributes, including from Education Minister Michelle McIlveen. She described him as a “dedicated” head teacher.
She said: “I was privileged to visit his wonderful school. He was a dedicated and passionate principal and will be greatly missed.”