There were always going to be tears amid the emphatic send-off as a trailblazing Coalisland teacher gave his final goodbye after dedicating more than half a century to one of the area’s largest primary schools.
Martin Daly’s retirement from teaching duties at Primate Dixon Primary School just before Christmas marks the end of an era for the popular school.
His final moments were caught on camera in an emotional farewell that saw his colleagues shower him with cheers and a round of applause, as they lined the school steps in a guard of honour.
In a touching moment, Mr Daly acknowledged the adulation and just held off from breaking down as he warmly embraced school principal Mr Sean Dillon.
All the while, the crowd kept cheering.
Martin has walked the school corridors since the late 1950s, when he first entered the doors as a pupil. His journey as a teacher began in 1972, when the town was at the centre of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights movement and troubled by violence and unrest.
In a career spanning five decades, he has been credited with keeping Primate Dixon at the forefront of technology and innovation, and inspiring and enlivening the classrooms for successive generations of Coalisland children.
A spokesperson for the school paid tribute to Martin after he put away his mouse, keyboard and lots of other gadgetry for the final time.
“Martin has completed an unparalleled 51 years study and service in his school, the Primate Dixon. This has never been and will never be surpassed.
“Martin has been responsible for a huge range of innovation at his school, in the classroom, in music and performance, in electronics, sound and lighting and, most especially, in so many different aspects of e-learning and ICT.
“It really is the case that no school in the north has his equal in this regard to technological development. All across our Primate Dixon school community, children, staff and families, wish Martin great health to enjoy many years of retirement.
“And to Master Daly, an absolute gentleman, we do not say farewell, but rather as we say here in Coalisland, we only say ‘see ya, Martin’.” His colleagues and former pupils have flooded social media with warm tributes, calling him the ‘best teacher ever’; ‘an absolute gentleman’; ‘ a great man inside and outside the school’ and ‘a legend’.