Head teacher killed in storm was ‘giant in his prime’on November 27, 2021 at 12:13 pm

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Primary school head Francis Lagan died when a tree fell on his car during Storm Arwen.

Francis Lagan

Image source, St Mary’s PS

Tributes have been paid to a school principal who was killed when a tree fell on his car during Storm Arwen.

Francis Lagan, the head of St Mary’s Primary School in Maghera, was described as a “giant in his prime”.

He was travelling along Dublin Road in Antrim town when the accident happened on Friday afternoon.

Northern Ireland is continuing to feel the effects of Storm Arwen, with fallen trees blocking roads and power cuts leaving some homes without electricity.

A weather warning for strong winds – including gusts up to 70mph (113km/h) – is in place until 18:00 GMT on Saturday.

In Londonderry a driver sustained minor injuries after his car was struck by a tree along Letterkenny Road.

The Department for Infrastructure said its workers had dealt with more than 130 weather-related incidents affecting the road network since 21:00 on Friday.

Staff are working at several roads to remove fallen trees or other obstructions caused by the storm.

So far the strongest gust recorded by the Met Office in Northern Ireland during the storm was 87mph (140km/h) at Orlock Head in County Down early on Saturday morning.

The Met Office said people should stay alert to the weather when they are travelling.

The death of County Londonderry school principal Mr Lagan was confirmed by St Mary’s Primary School vice-principal Martina Bradley on Friday.

“It is with great pain and sadness this evening that I have to inform you of the untimely death of our much loved principal Mr Lagan,” she said in a statement on the school’s website.

“May his gentle soul rest in peace.”

St Patrick’s College in Maghera, where Mr Lagan had been a pupil in the 1990s, also paid tribute to him on social media.

“Education in South Derry has lost a giant in his prime,” said the school.

Mr Lagan’s Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club Watty Graham’s Glen described him as a “great club man, coach… a fantastic son, brother, husband and daddy”.

The club said it would “stand strong with the Lagan family”.

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen said she was sending her “deepest sympathy” to Mr Lagan’s family and friends.

In a Twitter post, she said: “I was privileged to visit his wonderful school, St Mary’s Primary School in Glenview.

“He was a dedicated and passionate principal and will be greatly missed.”

The Dublin Road in Antrim, where the crash happened, reopened on Saturday morning.

Power cuts have affected a number of locations across Northern Ireland.

On Saturday morning about 20 areas were without electricity although no major outages were reported, according to Northern Ireland Electricity Networks.

Waves breaking over tidal pool at Portstewart

At one stage on Friday more than 2,400 homes in Larne in County Antrim were left without without power.

Ferry operator P&O cancelled its 08:00 sailing between Larne and Cairnryan in Scotland on Saturday because of the storm.

Stena Line said its ferry services from Belfast to Cairnryan and Belfast to Liverpool in England on Saturday would be delayed due to the weather – details are available on the company’s website.

In County Antrim, ferry sailings between Ballycastle and Rathlin Island, which were cancelled on Friday, are expected to be affected again on Saturday.

Although the strongest winds are affecting coastal areas, inland parts can also expect some very windy conditions.

An image shared on social media showed damage to trees at the Dark Hedges near Armoy in County Antrim.

The tunnel of beech trees on Bregagh Road has become an international tourist attraction since featuring in the TV series Game of Thrones.

In the Republic of Ireland, a severe weather warning has been issued for counties Donegal, Mayo, and Sligo.

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