I was a student in the 1970s. Fr X was my Irish teacher for my first three years and I hated him with a passion. I was a troubled young lad who had low self- esteem and anxiety, things I did not understand at the time.

As soon as I finished the Inter-cert I got out of school and went to work in Dublin. I found myself in a miserable situation and when I came home again that Christmas my mother noticed how I was and she encouraged me to go back to school and finish the Leaving.

I went back but was still troubled. I found myself visiting the school oratory often and Fr X noticed. One day he stopped me on the corridor and asked how I was? I told him I wasn’t great and he asked me if I wanted to talk. That conversation was a turning point and the beginning of a life-long friendship. He supported me throughout my remaining two years in school. He totally changed my life and helped me to believe in myself and to see myself as a good person.

After I left school, I found myself in trouble with alcohol. I sought out this priest again and he told me that he wasn’t in the business of putting labels on people but he suggested that I stop drinking. I did not listen immediately but his words stayed with me and eventually I quit.

We remained friends and the wheel turned full circle and an opportunity arose for me to support him during a difficult time in his life and I am grateful for that. We remained in weekly contact until his death.

I also had occasion to notice that he was a generous man and he was particularly generous towards a charity that I was involved in. He was a man who put no store on money.

I still miss him every day and I know that without his help and support I would never have what I enjoy today: a wife, children, grandchildren and a successful business. I owe it all to that priest.