Tributes paid to Professor Noel Sheehy

Everyone involved with the British Psychological Society is saddened by the death of Professor Noel Sheehy, the Society’s President-Elect.

Dr Gerry Mulhern, President of the British Psychological Society paid tribute: “Noel was a dear friend, a highly respected member of the UK psychology community, and a very active member of our Society. We are all saddened by Noel’s death, and our thoughts are with his wife Alex, other close family and friends”.

Noel was Professor of Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University, where the Director of the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Professor Andy Tattersall, spoke on behalf of the university.

You are invited to leave messages of tribute and condolence in the comments section below.

Noel Sheehy's family is inviting donations to the charity Youth Music in his memory.

They say you regret the things you don't do, more than those you do. Noel Sheehy was head of Psychology at UC Dublin when I started my undergrad. He was amazing. His skill as a lecturer quickly gained a reputation and the largest theatre couldn't hold the crowd who showed up for his lectures.We were a small group of Science students swamped by those in the BA, an administrative anomaly,..however Noel met with us several times himself to figure out an options/timetable solution. He was so approachable and warm.My regret is that I recently returned to study, work psychology, and read some articles by Noel and had intended to drop him a line to tell him what I had thought about him. Now he is no longer with us.For those who had the pleasure of working with him, and for his family, I offer my sincere condolences.In Sympathy,William

Noel was my undergraduate project supervisor in University College Dublin. He was generous with his expertise and informal in his manner. I looked forward to our meetings and I always felt very fortunate to have him as my supervisor. As I met him at various conferences and events over the years it was clear that his excellent sense of humor and his warmth as a person had not diminished in any way over time.

He will be missed by so many people who were fortunate to have known him.

Suaimhneas síoraí dá anam.

Although I did not have the pleasure of meeting Noel on a personal level, I have found his work truly inspirational. I am saddened that such a prolific author in the history of psychology has passed away.

My thoughts and prayers to his family.

R.I.P Noel.

I am so shocked as I just came on to explore and I saw this. I remember Prof Sheehy from my days as an Undergraduate student at QUB from 1999-2002. Thanks to the inspiration from him and also many others at QUB I am now a Psychology teacher at a school in England.

My thoughts and prayers go to all his family


Noel was the external examiner for my PhD at The University of Birmingham in 2009. He travelled to Birmingham that day for the viva even though his house was "comprehensively burgled" (in his words) the night before. He was warm and friendly throughout the viva despite what he had to sort out later that day. I think anyone else would have cancelled that day under those circumstances, but I guess that was the generous, kind and considerate person he was. He even put me at ease with humour on the day. As I entered the room I remember he said "If I'm wearing a pink shirt it's good news". I was so relieved to see he was wearing a pink shirt! I'll remember that moment for the rest of my life. Thank you Noel for such a pleasant memory.

My thoughts are with his family and close friends.


I have just learned of Noel Sheehy's sudden death, so sad and shocking. I first met Noel at Q.U.B. in my final PhD year. He took it to the home run. His gentle words of encouragement will always stay with me: 'Bernadette, (he'd say smiling), you're doing a PhD the hard way'. During supervision, he made it look all so easy. He had such profound insight; he allowed me to believe that my ideas mattered enough to develop further. Noel made himself available even in between supervision sessions. Many years later even after I finished at Q.U.B. he helped me. I feel so sorry to learn of such sad news.

Noel was a kind man, a genius with a gentle soul.

R.I.P. Noel


The staff in Praxis Care, Belfast are very saddened to hear of the death of Noel Sheehy. Noel was a past member of our Research Committee giving generously of his time and skills to help us develop research around issues in mental health. He was so encouraging and supportive of the work we carried out. His enthusiasm was infectious and his generosity of spirit so admirable. It was our privilege to have worked alongside him. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

I was dismayed to learn that Noel had passed away. I first met him in the 1970s when he was a postgraduate student in Cardiff studying with Antony Chapman. It was evident at the outset of his career that he would go on to make an outstanding contribution to psychology. He was such a genuine and generous person and it was always a delight to meet him whenever our paths crossed over the years. He will be greatly missed. I extend my deepest sympathy to his family.

I'm deeply sorry to hear about Noel's death... it is a real shock. He was one of the key lecturing staff when I studied at Queen's (for my UG and then PhD in Psychology) and I always remember him as a very friendly, good humoured and engaging individual. He came to UWIC some years ago to present a seminar on suicide/death and I attended along with some of my students. It was lovely to see him again and my students really enjoyed the session and found it very thought-provoking. He was full of "craic" and a lovely person to be around. I can't believe that he is no longer with us. Wishing his family and close friends the strength they need to get through this difficult time as they come to terms with this immense loss.

Annette Daly
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC)

I met Noel when I was an undergraduate and Queen's Belfast. I found his dynamism and enthusiasm infective and I'm truly saddened that I won't have the opportunity to thank him for his inspiration and energy.

My thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends.

I have just heard of Noel's death. Like Louise, I was one of the Leeds PostGrad cohort of the mid-1980s, with one of Noel's roles being postgrad tutor. I arrived in Leeds as a homeless student and Noel and Alex took me into their home, with Noel, true to his ways, telling me to stay until I found suitable digs.

It was this generosity which stood out in Noel and has clearly touched many people. He was always available, kind and offered a non-judgemental, measured perspective.

He was also a highly intelligent person with a lovely Irish, slightly off-centre sense of humour.

Thanks Noel - my thoughts go to your family.

Andy Clarke

I knew Noel for many years at Queens University Belfast but never worked closely with him. But yet I always valued him for his professional wisdom, friendship and good company. He was one of those people of whom it is often said - I wish I knew him more. He will be sadly missed by many. My deepest sympathies to all his family.


I first got to know Noel when he agreed to supervise my PhD at Queens. He gave unwavering support and guidance through the whole process. His support was on all levels - practical, motivational, inspirational. His genuine concern and interest in others was remarkable and admirable. Noel had the enviable ability to make others smile and to bring out the best in them. I am very saddened by his death and I will remember him very fondly….Noel - it looks like we’ll never get that paper published now :)

Ray Glennon

I am also deeply saddened to have learned of the sudden loss of Noel. I was lucky enough to have worked with Noel over a number of years as an external examiner for our Postgraduate courses. He was always incredibly supportive and helpful in his advice to me, something he always gave with his usual charm, warmth and humour. A great loss to so many people in so many ways. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

I feel so sad about Noel's death and his loss within many people's lives. Like Neil I remember him fondly during my clinical training and had the privilege of working with him when I joined the School of Psychology at QUB some years back. His warmth and generosity of spirit always struck me. He never seemed rushed and always had time to offer a bewildered colleague. My thoughts, as many others, are with his family and friends.

I remember Noel fondly from my undergraduate studies at Queen's Belfast. He was welcoming, friendly, and always ready to lend a supportive shoulder. My sympathy and prayers are with his family and friends.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Noel was my personal tutor, when I did my undergrad at Leeds 1986-1989, he was so funny, inspiring and kind to me... in our first assignment he asked our group to read and review a psychological book, and my colleagues went off and read Freud and Jung and Hilgard and Atkinson, I was reading Catch22, and wrote a review of that. After he handed back the essays, at the end of the meeting he took me to one side, quietly thanked me and asked me not to lose that way of doing things! I never have. I am so sad to hear of his death and I send my prayers and condolences to his wife and family, and friends.

I was shocked and saddened by the premature death of Noel, who I met in 1985 when I came to Leeds as a PhD student and he was the postgraduate tutor. He was superb in this role and a constant source of encouragement and support for me and the small group of PhD students all struggling to meet the newly introduced 4 year deadline - Noel encouraged us right up to the final hour! Noel was a lovely man who had time for everyone and never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was warm and funny with a very mischievious manner and I am sure will be missed by many. My thoughts go to his family.

I met Noel at Leeds University back in 1989. I was a young foreign PG student feeling scared, nervous and happy - all at the same time. Noel was the PG tutor and my supervisor. I will always remember his warm welcome, his enthusiasm and concern for my work, my personal problems, my future. He touched my life, he inspired my work, he will always be one of my most valuable role models.

Noel Sheehy was my best male friend, and the best friend to many. From his earliest moments as a 1970s PhD student in Cardiff, it was plain that he could be creative across a range of social, developmental and cognitive areas and that he was destined to become an outstanding psychologist. He had an independence of thought and a penetrating, analytical mind. That was coupled with with a strong sense of duty and responsibility, and he would bend over backwards not to cause offence to anyone. He saw the best in everyone; and he had an unkind word about no-one. Later on, in Leeds University, as a staff member in committees, the twinkle in the eye from across the room would convey a deep understanding of how groups work. He had an attractive sense of fun and privately would have me in stitches. Noel always remained the most grounded, self-effacing and unobtrusive of men, perhaps in part because of an underlying vulnerability, and a strong desire to please and to learn. People were attracted to his personality, intellect and limitless enthusiasm. He was able to engage with everyone and to sustain relationships, coming across as extraordinarily easy-going, whatever conflicting and heavy demands were actually confronting him. He was sensitive, warm and incredibly tolerant. I never knew Noel to put himself first. He gave generously of his time for those in need of help, and he was a great ally to many. With Noel one was safe revealing all. Getting to know Noel was more difficult but so worthwhile. He was a beautiful person.

I am Marie, Noel's sister - The Sheehy family are devistated by Noel's sudden death, but reading these tributes has made our pain a little easier - Thank You all so much

I remember Noel fondly during my clinical training at QUB as a friendly and welcoming member of the Psychology Dept. I was looking forward to his Presidential year and could not think of anyone more fitting to take over from Gerry Mulhern, another member of the QUB department who I have much respect for. The discipline of Psychology is all the poorer without him. My condolences to his family and friends.

I am very saddened by the news of the passing of Professor Noel Sheehy.

I worked with Noel as a researcher between 2003 and 2007.
I remember attending a conference with Noel and a lady approached him and thanked him profusely. A little confused Noel inquired as to the source of this thanks. The lady replied that many years ago he had given her some advice that completely changed her career path and life. She was now working in a job that gave her much satisfaction and attributed a portion of that to his guidance. With typical humility Noel thanked her and took no such credit.

In my experience this story typified Noel. His door was always open (literally). His advice was always positive, insightful and above all inspirational. He saw goodness and skill in everyone and encouraged them to reach for their dreams.

I will miss Noel greatly. He was a good friend.
My thoughts go to his family and friends.

Noel - how very sad to lose you - you were very talented, generous and funny. A great colleague and much appreciated supervisor for Mary-Ann's PhD at Leeds University where - if memory correct - you became the youngest psychology professor. Above all - a lovely man. Chris Alford & Mary-Ann Forrest

I am truely saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Sheehy. I join colleagues here in sending my deepest condolences and sympathy to his family and those that were close to him.

I was deeply shocked and saddened at this tragic news. I knew Noel as an external examiner. He was always so positive and encouraging in our work and we chatted easily about all sorts. He shared much wisdom with us and I loved his quick wit. One of the most genuine, approachable and friendly people I have ever met. A huge loss to the profession and my heart goes out to his family. Rest in peace Noel.

Noel was a very dear friend and colleague. As Director of the School of Psychology at Queens Univ of Belfast I was involved in his appointment to the second established Chair at Queens in 1991. It was one of the best appointments made in the School. Noel quickly established himself and played a crucial role in the School's research activities. Many colleagues and students benefited from his seemingly endless energy, ideas and patience. Speaking personally he was a great source of strength and support to me. Nothing was too much trouble to him. I was so much looking forward to his Presidential year when I could repay some of my indebtedness to him by supporting him as a fellow Trustee. Noel was an extremely kind man, not prone to gossip and I never heard him say an unkindly thing about anyone. He will be sadly missed.

I'm studying health psychology at the moment and although I did not know Noel personally and he had no involvement with my course, of all the lecturers I approached, he was one of few who was more than willing to support me in gaining participants for my thesis through his lectures. Noel seemed liked a supportive, talented and caring individual and my thoughts are with his family and friends.

I am so deeply sad to hear of Noel's death. His memory will remain with all of us for so many good reasons. For me, his support was always a rock and he possessed that rare ability to give generously to others with the only cost to himself. My condolences and deep sympathy go to his family and close friends.
Ronan Yore

I am deeply saddened by Noel’s recent death. I first met Noel in Belfast, when he was my brother Rory’s PhD supervisor. I remember this encounter very well as I found him incredibly welcoming, funny and interested in what a young PhD student had to say. He was also generous with his time and even kindly agreed to comment on a draft of my own thesis. I saw him recently in Glasgow at the Annual BPS conference, where he was regaling a small group of us about some of more amusing, if not tricky, high points of life in Birkenhead. In short, Noel was a good natured, witty and charming man. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with Alex and his family.

I first met Noel Sheehy when he was external examiner several years ago at the University of Paisley (now known as the University of the West of Scotland). As a coincidence I met him again rather recently at the BPS conference in Glasgow and he was full of good spirit and looking forward to taking up the position of President of the BPS. So sad to learn of his premature passing... what a terrible shock for his family.

I had the very greatest respect for Noel. His quiet, insightful perspectives were much valued by me during my time on the Trustees and as President. I always felt he was a wise and calming counsel, utterly reliable and steadily supportive.

His loss to the Society, particularly at this point in his BPS career, is considerable and I know we will miss him greatly.

Ray Miller

I am incredibly saddened at Noel's death - having known him for many years since he supervised my PhD at Queen's Belfast in the mid-1990s. Without Noel I would probably never have received a PhD scholarship and/or embarked on a career in academia. For this as well as countless other reasons I remain forever indebted. In addition to Noel's distinguished academic contributions across the discipine of Psychology, he will also be remembered for his longstanding commitment and service to all levels of the Society. Beyond his undoubted academic qualities, Noel was remarkably warm, generous and thoughtful. He was a great man will be missed immensely.
Rory O'Connor

Very saddened to learn of the death of prof noel sheehy - as a tutor he was supportive & willing to go that
Little bit extra to corral the student in the right direction! I remember him for his humility, the twinkle in his eyes of irish wit & charm

finally his neck ties - i tried to compete but hadnt a hope - very classy!

Thoughts & condolences to his family & friends