THE death has taken place of one of Enniskillen’s best-known teachers.
Benny Burns, of 22, Drumbeg, Enniskillen, died peacefully at his home at the weekend following a short illness.
During his long career as a teacher, he earned great respect from colleagues and pupils alike.
A physical education teacher at St Patrick’s High School Omagh for 31 years and another 10 at South West College in Enniskillen, he was well known in sporting circles throughout Fermanagh and Tyrone.
In a tribute on social media, a former pupil of St Patrick’s College said: “Sad news coming out of Enniskillen today following the death of former teacher Benny Burns. Benny taught PE in St Patrick’s up to the late ‘90s. Much loved and memorable for his humour and quick wit, Benny was one of the characters in the school who loved sports and teaching. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. May he rest in peace.”
A spokesperson for the school paid tribute saying: “The Board of Governors, principal, staff and pupils would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Burns family on the loss of Benny, RIP.”
Another former pupil commented: “He knew when to encourage firmly, but also knew when you needed an arm around your shoulders.”
Benny loved to keep himself fit and healthy. As a young man, he loved sports, playing GAA and rugby and, in later life canoed and ran marathons.
He coached numerous GAA teams including county squads in Tyrone, Fermanagh and had a host of accolades including winning an All Ireland with his under-16 team. He also coached at Enniskillen Rugby Club.
Benny taught many people to swim in Enniskillen and encouraged everyone to keep fit with his classes. He also organised Sports Days for local children and helped train participants in the Special Olympics.
Above all, though he was a father, husband, and grandfather with 11 children, 18 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
A regular Mass attender he was also a Mass Reader and helped deliver the Parish Messenger.
His love of music and movies was a common theme in his life, and even in his final days, he took comfort from being surrounded by music.
Benny met the love of his life Margaret in the church choir, Margaret, sang in the town musicals, and they were well known to enjoy the craic. The couple married and had 11 children losing their son Michael at the age of six.
Later in life, he became a grandfather and great-grandfather and spent his golden years looking after his grandchildren teaching them to colour in, do gardening, play rugby, and lots of other sports.
He was pre-deceased by his wife Margaret (nee Goan), son Michael and brothers Patsy and Imelda.
He is survived by his children Anthony, Kevin, Damian (Jan), Christine (Fergal), Helen (Garry), Dominic (Rachel), Emma (Mark), David (Leijla), Claire (Luke), Leone.
He also leaves brothers Brendan, Keith, Gerard, Fabian and Declan.
Following Requiem Mass in St Michael’s Church on Tuesday burial took place at Cross Cemetery.
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