A TEACHER and prince of the stage who touched the lives of many was laid to rest yesterday (Monday) in the soil of his adopted Co. Wexford.
Pat Connaughton (57), from Ballinpark, Bunclody, sadly passed away in Wexford General Hospital on Friday to the great grief of his family, after two months of declining health. The Roscommon native, a father of four, was a teacher at the FCJ School in Bunclody and an influential stalwart of the stage.
The deceased first arrived in the Model County about 35 years ago to work as a teacher, having graduated in English, economics and Spanish at UCG. He was destined to make his mark as an inspirational member of staff at the FCJ for more than three decades, up to the time of his retirement in 2011.
As a former member of the stellar crew that made up his generation at the Druid Theatre in Galway, he was also quick to make his mark in dramatic circles in Wexford. He took to the stage of the Athenaeum with the Enniscorthy Theatre Group and his genius in working with a script provided many high points for the group up to the time of its disbandment in 2004.
He won All-Ireland awards with ETG, twice as an actor and once as director of 'Cripple of Inismaan' in 1999. Pat was central to the formation of the Bunclody-Kilmyshall Drama Group
He was once rated best director in the national confined drama finals for his work with the group on 'Portia Coughlan'.
His presence in the staff room was key to the building of a tradition of excellence at the FCJ in presenting plays and musicals as Pat spread his influence beyond the strictures of the school timetable. He was always enthusiastically willing to share his knowledge and skill with others, young and old, as he lived his life to the full.
His passing has evoked great sympathy to his wife and lifelong friend Eilish, a fellow teacher who also studied at UCG, and the couple's family, Paul, Eoin, Mairead and Tim. Pat is also survived and mourned by his sisters Mary and Anne in Roscommon.
He was one of the greats.