Posted by Tony Murray on March 20, 2014 at 14:12:51:
I am sorry to let everyone know, but Barney Quinn died last week (March 10). He was 97. He was a remarkable man. I knew him for a long time – first as rather severe senior teacher at St Augustine’s, later as my head of year and Oxbridge tutor at Loreto. Like many that Barney – I could never call him that to his face no matter how long I knew him – tutored on an one-to-one basis (and there were many, all unpaid), I stayed in touch with him and Lou, his wife. We became friends and stayed in touch long after he retired (1981, I think).
He had many stories about St Augustine’s – it was never his favourite school, I think that was clearly St Ambrose. His stories about Spike falling off the wagon on the train back from rehab on a regular basis stand out. He always reckoned losing the school and it going comprehensive were the things that killed the Monsignor. Aye, that and the Gordon’s didn’t help much.
Barney was incredibly courageous. I remember him wading into a gang of youths in Moss Side during the riots. They were harassing a group of Loreto students at the bus stop and he just charged to their rescue. He must have been 62 then. One jumped on his back, but the others backed down. We brave Oxbridge types hid in the form room until the coast was clear.
He was a great man, perhaps the greatest it’s been my privilege to know. Kind, wise, selfless, never sanctimonious and with an amazing love of learning – ten years ago (in his 80’s) he was racing to learn both the piano and German before his eyesight finally gave out. That was probably the bitterest blow to him – for a man with his love of reading, it was tragic that his eyesight deteriorated to the point where he was pretty much functionally blind.
I last saw him about two years ago, he had shrunk with age and he was concerned about the health of Lou, but his mind was as sharp and inquisitive as ever.
I owe this man a lot as do many others. God bless you, Mr Quinn. He’s still not Barney to me even now.
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