Just now I received an email from an old friend, advising me of the passing of our former Abbey French teacher of the early 60s … and I was carried back …
Browsers of this site will know of many of the hobbies, pastimes and other pursuits that filled our days in those times. When I turned sixteen however, I abandoned them all in pursuit of a certain brown-eyed girl who shall remain nameless (but her face is here somewhere!).
This email pal fancied her too. Occasionally he got to leave her home: though mostly I triumphed. Then she forsook us both for another. I had no interest in life – much less hobbies.
We had to pass a French oral as part of our GSE studies. To draw out my few words of French, Mr (Brendan) Cassidy quizzed me about hobbies. I answered that I had none. He expressed amazement, but I refused to expand.
We all passed GCE French, because he was such a great teacher. In fact I went on to take A Levels and First Arts French at Queens – as did my rival in love. That latter character became a polyglot while I just struggled even with English!
Some decade later Brendan Cassidy had moved to Belfast and was living in the vicinity of my married sister Kathleen, in Belfast. The two families became friends.
On a visit home, Kathleen informed me that an old teacher of mine had been asking about me … my health, career and progress.
It was typical of the man that he would remember even one of the dimmer of his past pupils. But he spoke fondly of me. And I – and all other French students at the Abbey – thought highly – and indeed fondly of him.
Brendan Cassidy was an exceptional teacher, dedicated, talented and meticulous and a wonderful human being with a great sense of humour.
May he now enjoy his eternal reward.
Brendan’s funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday morning at 10 am in St Therese Church on the Somerton Road, Belfast.
"Bon repos et mille remerciements, cher ami."