Martin re­calls fond En­nis­cor­thy mem­o­ries of old

Enniscorthy Guardian - - NEWS -

ABOUT two weeks ago I had a call from well-known En­nis­cor­thy man David Hass­lacher, ask­ing if I would be in­ter­ested in meet­ing him at the Athenaeum to take a pho­to­graph of some­one who had per­formed on the stage there back in the 1940s.

The per­son in ques­tion, a lovely, gen­teel man, Martin White who now re­sides in Eng­land was on a visit to En­nis­cor­thy with his daugh­ter Deirdre Thomas and her hus­band Keith, and had the good for­tune to come across David, son of the late Betty Hass­lacher, who had made such an im­pres­sion on Martin in his youth.

In fact, one of Martin’s abid­ing mem­o­ries from his En­nis­cor­thy school­days was play­ing a small part as a Ro­man slave in a pro­duc­tion of Cae­sar’s Friend at the Athenaeum the­atre, where the star of the show was none other than the same Mrs Betty Hass­lacher – ‘a charm­ing and highly at­trac­tive lady who helped me through my stage fright’, as Martin re­calls.

Martin White, oth­er­wise known as Joseph, or as a boy grow­ing up in En­nis­cor­thy, Joe White, spent much of his boy­hood here in the 1940s, where his fa­ther Wil­liam White was the lo­cal Cus­toms & Ex­cise of­fi­cer. His mother Ellen Ka­vanagh from Killincoo­ley near Kil­muck­ridge sadly died when he was just four years old leav­ing his fa­ther a wid­ower with seven chil­dren.

The White fam­ily lived in a town house on Cathe­dral Street, formerly the Bishop’s house. Mar- tin and his two broth­ers at­tended the lo­cal Chris­tian Broth­ers School where they were taught by Mr Michael Tobin, fa­ther of the writer Colm Toibin, while his sis­ters at­tended the Loreto Con­vent in En­nis­cor­thy. Martin told me that the late Michael Tobin was ‘the best teacher he has ever had’.

In En­nis­cor­thy, Martin spent most of his spare time fly fish­ing on the river Slaney and while he loves all sports, fly fish­ing for trout and salmon re­main his favourite.

His mother Ellen Ka­vanagh and her brother John Ka­vanagh were the sev­enth gen­er­a­tion of the Ka­vanagh fam­ily to have farmed at Killincoo­ley and its ad­join­ing farm at Tinnabearna. The Tinnabearna farm ad­joined the sea, and thus the White fam­ily had the op­por­tu­nity ev­ery sum­mer of hav­ing both a farm hol­i­day and a sea­side hol­i­day at the same time.

Martin re­mem­bers th­ese days as idyl­lic.

On leav­ing school, Martin be­gan a bank­ing ca­reer with the Bank of Ire­land in Water­ford. Af­ter two years with the Bank of Ire­land he joined Stan­dard Char­tered Bank, a Bri­tish over­seas bank based in Lon­don. His Stan­dard Char­tered ca­reer took him to In­dia, Pak­istan, Dubai, Sri Lanka – where he told me he en­joyed trout fish­ing in the moun­tains – and Iraq, where he met and mar­ried an English lady named Pa­tri­cia.

Stan­dard Char­tered at that time was in­ter­ested in busi­ness in the Mid­dle East and sent Martin to the Mid­dle East Cen­tre of Arab stud­ies MECAS, in the vil­lage of Shem­lan in the Le­banese moun­tains for 10 months to study and learn the Ara­bic lan­guage and cul­ture. Although it is a very dif­fi­cult lan­guage for Euro­peans to learn, Martin said that when he be­came fa­mil­iar with it he found it had ‘some very at­trac­tive po­etry and prose’.

Af­ter 20 years with Stan­dard Char­tered, Martin was re­cruited by a large Amer­i­can bank where he looked af­ter the bank’s in­ter­ests in the Mid­dle East and Africa and reg­u­larly at­tended and spoke at the an­nual meet­ings of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund in Wash­ing­ton.

Af­ter all his years away and all his trav­els around the world, Martin, now a re­tiree, tries to visit Ire­land as of­ten as he can and was hugely im­pressed with his tour of En­nis­cor­thy Cas­tle, es­pe­cially when ac­com­pa­nied by for­mer Cas­tle res­i­dent David Hass­lacher, and also with the newly re­fur­bished Athenaeum where he was de­lighted to once again grace the fa­mous stage over 70 years af­ter his de­but there and where I was de­lighted to pho­to­graph him and cap­ture a small snip­pet of per­sonal his­tory at the iconic the­atre at the heart of En­nis­cor­thy.

Martin White at the Athenaeum re­cently dur­ing a visit to his home town.

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