“An amazing man who filled the lives of many with love, laughter and fun. He will forever remain in the hearts of those he touched.” It’s clear that Discovery Bay International School (DBIS) teacher Sarah Beattie speaks for many when she pays tribute to her colleague and friend Mark O’Reilly, who tragically passed away while on a school ski trip in Switzerland in early February.
A warm and thoughtful person who loved hiking and travelling, Mark left an imprint on every single person he met. The tributes have come in thick and fast for the DBIS teacher, who had an immeasurable impact on the school community in his nearly five years there. Head of School Paul Tough says Mark was very engaged in his teaching and highly involved in the school.
“Mark was a very warm and humble person,” Paul says. “He was a soulful and gentle man who was softly spoken. He was very highly respected amongst the teaching staff, the students and the parents. He was the epitome of a great teacher to be honest. He was calm and had a quiet demeanour, as well as a brilliant sense of humour.”
From Ireland, Mark was a maths teacher, a form tutor and also coached football at the school. The eldest son of Brian and Teresa O’Reilly, Mark had three siblings – Amanda, Aaron and Melissa. DBIS held a memorial service for Mark on February 19, with many of his friends from places like Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur flying in to pay their respects.
For Sarah, Mark was the best friend anyone could ask for. “He had so many qualities that made him such a special person,” she says. “Friends and family meant a lot to Mark and he had strong relationships with so many people in Ireland, Hong Kong and around the world. When you think of Mark you think of a warm, friendly person who was always great fun to be around. He was caring, compassionate and considerate.”
Sarah says Mark possessed an innate love of learning and was studying for a Masters of Education, while his love for travel and “all things fun”, including karaoke, was ever present.
“He has seen so many places and left his footprint in many hearts,” Sarah says. “His life in Hong Kong couldn’t be more different than what he left behind [in Ireland]. The windy country roads of Bunnoe weren’t enough to keep Mark’s appetite satisfied. As his mother said, Mark has always been attracted to the bright lights, which is quite fitting as Mark was a bright light that lit up any room he stepped foot in.
“Hong Kong definitely won’t be the same for many people without him here,” Sarah concludes. “His family were proud and always admired the amount of travel Mark managed to do in such a short time. He enjoyed having a good laugh and he entertained many with his fantastic ability to tell a story and with his hilarious impersonations.”