The death from Covid-19 of the musical director of a Dublin choir has led to an outpouring of tributes from singers, friends and former students.
Paul Deegan, from Phibsborough, died in the Mater hospital on Saturday having taken ill on March 9.
He is survived by his wife Yvonne and children Sarah and Timothy, daughter-in-law Jen and grandson Ben.
The number of people who have died from Covid-19, also known as Coronavirus, has risen to six.
Paul was the musical director of the Dublin Airport Singers choir, and had a long and distinguished career as a singer and teacher.
He was formerly Head of Vocal Studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and had since been dedicated to choral conducting and singing tuition.
Paul served for many years as Irish Representative on the Council of the Association of Teachers of Singing (AOTOS), and on the Council of the European Voice Teachers Association (EVTA) of which he was an Honorary Life Member.
The Dublin Airport Singers led the tributes to Mr Deegan.
“A very sad day for Dublin Airport Singers with the news of the death of our inspiring and much loved Musical Director and dear friend, Paul Deegan,” a statement said.
“We had our last rehearsal on Sunday March 8, for a full day in anticipation of the Fingal Festival and an upcoming concert with a visiting French choir.”
“Paul began to feel ill the next day and ended up in hospital a week later, where he subsequently tested positive for coronavirus and sadly died on Saturday 21st. He died peacefully surrounded in spirit by love and prayers,” it added.
“Our world has changed forever. May he rest in peace,” the statement ended.
Owing to restrictions around public gatherings because of Covid-19 Paul’s funeral will be private.
In the death notice on RIP.ie Paul’s family say those who would have liked to attend the funeral, but can not due to current restrictions, may leave a personal message in the ‘Condolences’ section.
Many have left messages, some of which outline Mr Deegan’s generous nature.
“Paul was for many years a much valued and faithful trustee/director of the Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers’ Society. On behalf of the Society, I want to offer sincere condolences to his family,” said former chairman Felix Larkin.
Members of other choirs also paid their respects, including Michael Adams of DCC choir. “Our Deepest Sympathy go to you Yvonne, Sarah, and Timothy at this sad time. Paul will be forever in our thoughts,” he said.
“We had 26 wonderful years of him being our Musical Director with the DCC Choir, and learned so much from his tuition. He will always be remembered by us and we will cherish the many afternoon tea parties we had in your beautiful garden,” he added.
Ruth Mulholland wrote: “Everything I know about singing I learned from Paul. His patience knew no bounds.”
And Robin Tritschler thanked Paul, saying he had a profound impact on his life. “I was so very lucky to have you as a mentor, guide, and dear friend. You became part of my family. I shall miss you a great deal,” he said.
Choir director of St Peter's Singers, Helen Walsh, said: “Paul’s passing is to us the loss of one of the pillars of our choir family. He is and was the best of us.
"Paul joined our choir shortly after his retirement. He was an eminent musical director pretending to be a tenor.
“With utter generosity and grace, he offered both his beautiful tenor voice and his musical expertise to myself and all the choir. When I became stuck in direction, Paul gently showed me the way forward. And yet in his usual humble style, he just loved being one of us. His performance in Kylemore Abbey left the audience claiming afterwards, 'I felt he was just singing to me'.
“His loss is immeasurable to us. He will always inspire us to breathe better, to sing better, to sing what we mean, because in his own words, the 'audience knows what you are thinking'. "
Last week Dublin woman Siobhán Cullen paid a heartbreaking tribute to her 88-year-old mother, Eileen O’Neill, who died on March 18 days after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has played down the idea of a coronavirus lockdown and said Ireland is following the South Korea model of social distancing, social isolation and contact tracing.
Ex-League of Ireland striker Lee Duffy was hospitalised with Covid-19, a Wexford publican delivers pints to elderly regulars and a Dub has been made famous by hosting Bingo for his entire home-bound neighborhood. Independent.ie reporters are bringing you the latest coronavirus stories you may have missed this lunchtime.
Last Monday, at 4.10pm, I received a call from the National Ambulance Service asking if I could be in Tallaght Stadium at 5pm for testing. Seven days on, I still don't know if I have Covid-19. This account of the last week will be familiar to many.