Belvedere teacher nurtured love of arts

 

Gerard Haugh:GERARD HAUGH, who has died aged 60, was a teacher of English and history at Belvedere College, Dublin, where over the course of four decades he made a lasting impression on successive generations of pupils.

Headmaster Gerry Foley said his sudden death shocked and saddened literally thousands of pupils, past and present, all of whom he encouraged to aspire to excellence.

“Generous and passionate in his belief in the principle ‘Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sé’, Gerry’s legacy is that he inspired others to be generous, to live life to the full and that in giving, their life would be meaningful and rewarding.”

“A true educationalist” is how one parent described him. “His priority was on the developmental stages of boy to manhood and a wish to nurture a love of the arts, humanities and a philosophy of ‘being’ . . . I always experienced him as operating from a stance of an ‘ethic of care and love’ and a belief that he could get more out of the boys than they ever imagined.”

A former pupil wrote: “Gerry was much more than an English teacher to me, he was a man I could always look up to, and more importantly he was a friend to every student.”

Born in Dublin in 1950, he was one of two children of Desmond and Maire Haugh. At University College Dublin, he was an attentive student of English and history, and an entertaining records secretary of the Literary and Historical Society. He graduated in 1971. That year also he began teaching at Belvedere College, and completed his HDip Ed in 1972.

His interest in and knowledge of theatre led to his first school production, which was Robert Bolt’s play for children The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew. It was staged in the science wing of the school for a net cost of £57.

Subsequent productions included Guys and Dolls, The History of Tom Jonesand The Pirates of Penzance. He celebrated his 100th, and final, production last month. The author’s great-great-grandson, Gerald Dickens, attended his adaptation of The Pickwick Papers. And 12 members of the original cast of Bolligrewturned up at the opening night for a meal, the play and a presentation to the producer.

Gerard Haugh imparted a love of theatre, cinema and stagecraft to his pupils. He led them hill walking in Wicklow and hostelling in Ballinskelligs. He supervised their trips to see plays at Stratford-upon-Avon and London’s West End. Every year he organised the “Block Pull” from Dublin to Galway on behalf of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and Temple Street children’s hospital. And he also braved the elements to join pupils for the Christmas sleep-out in aid of Trócaire.

He is remembered as witty, sharp and honest. He could be tough when necessary and strict when required. He never fell into the twin traps of wanting to be “one of the lads”, or assuming to be God. He influenced many hundreds of young men for the better, one of whom now in middle age said: “He was a truly good man, an exceptional teacher and we’ll all miss him.”

He is survived by his sister Maureen, relatives and friends.

Gerard Martin (Gerry) Haugh: born April 13th, 1950; died March 19th, 2011