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Born teacher, practical patriot


Late Noel Lennon with pupils in Colaiste Ris (L-R) Miceal O'Neill, Richard Flynn, Simon McLoughlin, Roisin Glenholmes, Kemi Oladunjoye and Edward Smyth giving them some advise during Junior Council elections

Late Noel Lennon with pupils in Colaiste Ris (L-R) Miceal O'Neill, Richard Flynn, Simon McLoughlin, Roisin Glenholmes, Kemi Oladunjoye and Edward Smyth giving them some advise during Junior Council elections

Late Noel Lennon with pupils in Colaiste Ris (L-R) Miceal O'Neill, Richard Flynn, Simon McLoughlin, Roisin Glenholmes, Kemi Oladunjoye and Edward Smyth giving them some advise during Junior Council elections

Noel Lennon 1942 - 2010 Noel Lennon, Shore Road, Dundalk who died peacefully at his residence on August 6th was a born teacher, a man of peace, a genuine practical patriot who, over the 42 years he spent in Dundalk, developed a deep affection for his adopted town and its people and was eternally grateful for the opportunities that it opened in his life.

Aged 67, Noel was the only son of a tailor who was also a local politician while his mother was a teacher. For that reason it was little wonder that both teaching and politics became an integral part of his life. His father, Eugene was a Co. Councillor and his mother, Bridget a teacher.

One of a family of four born and reared in Drumlisk, Co. Longford, Noel was educated in St. Mel's in Longford where the College's fine tradition for Irish heritage and gaelic games fortified Noel's own strong love of country and service that became the hallmark of his life. He enjoyed sport and played handball in his youth.

Noel completed his education at University College Galway where he took a BA and B. Comm, HDE. His first teaching post was in a private school in Delvin, Co. Westmeath where he remained for four years and where he met his wife, Anne.

His move to the Christrian Brothers School in Dundalk came in 1968 when he took up a teaching post under the Brothers. Over the 38 years he remained in the school teaching a variety of subjects, Noel won the deep regard of both pupils and colleagues alike as a calm, inspiring teacher who enlivened his lessons with wit and a wry sense of humour.

Noel's natural inclination not to judge others, and to try and see the good in all made him a natural for teaching, for he always tried to encourage rather than taking a punitive approach.

He contributed much to the rapid development of the school which became Coláiste Rís on the departure of the Brothers, involving himself in projects and the debating and quiz teams that helped develop pupils and the school's profile. Colleagues who enjoyed Noel's company for he was a great conversationalist sought him out for advice and wide counsel.

It was no surprise that his contribution to the school was rewarded by his appointment as Vice-Principal, a post he occupied when he retired from teaching in 2004.

Noel's background in politics made him a target for persuasion to become actively involved, but he resisted for years mainly because of his fears that an outsider would not be accepted. Those fears were quickly dispelled when he was elected first on a Fianna Fail ticket to Louth County Council in 1991, and went on to serve in public office for 18 years.

He never took his support for granted, felt honoured that he became the first citizen of Dundalk on three occasions (1996-97, 2003-04 and 2006-07) and gave unstintingly of his time not just to the Urban Council on which he served for 15 years (1994 - 2009), the County Council where he served for 13 years (1991 -2004) but on a variety of public bodies including, Regional Border Authority, Dundalk Port Company, Louth Enterprise Board, Dundalk Employment Partnership and Louth Development Board.

His motivation in politics was driven by an intense desire to help others and by his overriding ambition to improve not just the physical and aesthetic environment of his adopted town but the quality of life of its citizens. He loved his time as a politician, relished the canvass in that it provided him the opportunity to engage with people and was particularly grateful for the kindness that he met from the people of the town, never once experiencing resentment that he wasn't one of their own.

Noel's tolerance and understanding of people and his honest and fair-minded approach made him an ideal choice for his work as a marriage counsellor in an earlier part of his life and in more recent times he served with distinction on the Parole Board, winning recognition for the balanced nature of his judgment and the diligence of his research.

Noel's death after a relatively short illness and only a short few years after his retirement from teaching and politics has deprived his family of his loving presence that was embellished by the arrival of his grandchildren. They are however consoled by their many happy memories of a wonderful husband, father, brother and grandfather who in his time in public life and teaching left a legacy that will endure.

Noel is survived by his wife, Anne (neé Philbin) who is a native of Delvin, Co. Westmeath, sons, Eugene, David, Conor and Mark, daughters, Joan and Sinead, (all Dundalk) sisters, Nuala (Malahide) and Imelda (Drumlish), grandchildren, Darragh, Lauren and Oisin, and by relatives and friends.

He was predeceased by his parents, Eugene and Bridget and sister, Mary Duffy (Dungarvan).

Having reposed at his home, Noel's remains were taken to Church of the Holy Family where Requiem Mass was celebrated by Rev. P. Stanley, S.M., who was assisted by Very Rev. M. Murtagh, P.P. Dunleer and Very Rev. P. Brady, P.P. a friend of Noel's from their schooldays.

The Readings were given by sons, Eugene and Conor and the Prayers of Intercession were led by son-inlaw, Paul Martin, son, Mark, niece, Susan Duffy and family friend, Christina George.

The eulogy was given by Noel's friend and former colleague, Proinsias O'Cuanaigh.

The beautiful music was provided by soloist, Roisin Crawley and the organist was Olivia Finnegan.

After Mass burial took place in St. Patrick's cemetery with pupils from Colaiste Ris forming a guard of honour as the cortege left the church. There was an exceptionally large turnout at the Mass and interment which reflected the contribution that Noel had made to teaching and public life and the deep regard by which he was held.

The Month's Mind Mass will be held in the Church of the Holy Family on September 5th at 11am.