Professor John Monaghan, who for many years was the public face of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Ireland, has died at the age of 73.

In his capacity as National Vice-President and Chair of the Society's Social Policy Committee, he campaigned vigorously for governments to adopt policies that would address the roots of poverty while at the same time easing the daily burdens on the excluded.

Professor Monaghan was also active in the society's Leixlip branch and was gratified by the large membership the society attracted in Trinity College Dublin where he remained Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering following his retirement.

Forced to go out to work by his father's premature death, Prof Monaghan had to leave primary school in his native Drimnagh, Dublin.

But he soon accessed further education through the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee (CDVEC) and later studied Engineering at Bolton Street College.

He was acutely conscious of the importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty in which many families become trapped and advocated strongly for government measures that would broaden access to learning.

He also praised the teachers in the CDVEC who had urged him to pursue his studies while he was supporting his mother and siblings and who helped him and his fellow students by providing additional tutorials in their own time.

A former colleague of Prof Monaghan on the SVP's Social Policy Committee described the atmosphere he fostered there as "very relational".

He added that he was exceptional in his role as the visible and respected face of the society in Ireland.

Late in life, he took up flying as a hobby and continued to hone his skills as a pilot after being treated for cancer.

He died in Our Lady's Hospice in Harold's Cross and is survived by his wife Catherine and their children and grandchildren.