Husband’s tribute to wife who cared for him through cancer before she died from illness herself

A husband has paid tribute to his “selfless” wife who cared for him through his cancer battle before she was later diagnosed with the disease too.

Mum-of-two Marie McGuckin was diagnosed in November 2021, just months after husband Patrick was given the all clear in August 2021.

Marie, a teacher at St Patrick’s College, Maghera, lost her fight with the disease in May last year.

Read more: Marie McGuckin: Tributes to beloved teacher who was “beautiful inside and out”

Her husband Patrick has paid tribute to his “rock” as the family prepare for a sold-out memorial concert in her honour at St Mary’s Church in Maghera, Co Derry, on Friday.

Speaking to Belfast Live ahead of the concert, husband Patrick McGuckin described how the well-known teacher had cared for him after his own cancer diagnosis before she, too, was diagnosed with the illness.

“I went through cancer treatment in the year previous to Marie,” he said.

“She was very much a carer to me in the previous year. She was my rock and she got me through that very well. I only got the all-clear in August 2021 and then Marie was diagnosed in November ’21, so it was a tough couple of years. Unfortunately she only got about six months.”

The concert on Friday is in aid of Charis Cancer Care, a charity based near Lough Fea at the foothills of the Sperrins, who the family say helped them immensely.

“Marie was a very selfless person,” said Patrick.

“I would best describe her life as one of service to others. Family was very important to her, probably the most important thing in her life, and she was a loving wife, a fantastic mother, and sister.

“Work was also important to her too. She was a teacher and for the last 17 years of her life she taught in St Pat’s Maghera. She very much treated her pupils as family too, and she delighted in their achievements both academically and extra-curricular. She basked in them doing well. She was someone I thought who always treated children the same.”

He continued: “She had great friends both inside school and outside who she cared deeply for.

“In her latter days Marie was very much concerned with those she was leaving behind, and their wellbeing, nearly moreso than her own – which shows the type of person she was.

“She was very much involved in the local community in Ballinderry where she lived. The children are involved in the local GAA clubs and she was a supporter of that as well.”

Karl McGuckin
Karl McGuckin

And on the concert on Friday, which features brother-in-law and renowned baritone Karl McGuckin, he said: “Marie was a very modest and humble. She would certainly be overawed to think that there would be a concert in her honour. It’s fantastic to know that she was held in such high regard, that the concert has sold out. It’s good to know that she has inspired so many pupils and touched so many lives. That’s a great comfort to me and her family, knowing that she was a special person.”

Mr McGuckin’s brother, Karl, is a celebrated bass baritone who will be performing at the sold-out concert on Friday.

Also speaking to Belfast Live, the esteemed classical singer gave his own tribute to his sister-in-law, saying: “She had a huge generosity of spirit and she was a teacher in every way.

“Her dedication and motivation was intense helping, assisting others. She wasn’t into herself she was she was always thinking of others. She was a beautiful person both inside and out, someone that we loved very, very dearly.”

On the concert, he said: “When producing this concert, and I wanted to ensure that it wasn’t going to be something that was overly sort of melancholic, or morose, because that’s certainly not something that she would want.

“That’s not what she was about, you know, even in her final days, she looked for the best in everything.

“I’ve always said that this kind of thing is even on the title and it’s even on the poster, it’s an uplifting concert. The idea of it is to uplift people because that’s what she would want to do – uplift inspire, and cause people to aspire.”


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BelfastLive – Co Tyrone