An Ap­pre­ci­a­tion

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters - ÁINE RYAN Martin Curry

Sto­ry­teller and dra­matic racon­teur Martin Curry (Oc­to­ber 11th, 1939 – Au­gust 25th, 2017) never used one word when a thou­sand would en­hance the hi­lar­ity. He was the only jour­nal­ist wait­ing on Bea­tle John Len­non when he landed by he­li­copter with Yoko Ono on the lawn of the Great South­ern Ho­tel, Mul­ranny in 1968.

His top-se­cret visit turned out to be a scoop for the Mayo News af­ter Curry got a tip-off that Len­non was stay­ing there while vis­it­ing the tiny Clew Bay is­land he had just bought.

Curry was ready and wait­ing for Princess Grace of Monaco too dur­ing her first vis­its to her his­toric fam­ily home­stead Drimurla, New­port.

A com­mu­nity man, de­vout Catholic and quin­tes­sen­tial Covie (the ver­nac­u­lar for a West­port na­tive), it is no won­der that this long­time jour­nal­ist, and ed­i­tor, of the lo­cal news­pa­per broke sto­ries. He not only knew just about ev­ery­one in the Co Mayo town, and around the me­an­der­ing Clew Bay, but by all ac­counts of­ten knew more about their ge­neal­ogy than they did them­selves.

The el­dest of eight chil­dren born to John and Kath­leen Curry of John’s Row, West­port, from the age of 10 he would walk each sum­mer to Ker­ri­g­ans farm in Croaghrim, Lis­car­ney, at to earn a few shillings for the fam­ily and en­sure there was “one less mouth to feed” at home.

Feel­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing the el­dest, Martin left the Chris­tian Broth­ers school at 14 af­ter his fa­ther was forced to go to Eng­land to find work.

It was serendip­i­tous that his first job was as a tele­gram boy in the lo­cal post of­fice as he pro­ceeded in 1961 to be­gin a 41-year re­la­tion­ship with the other nerve cen­tre of lo­cal news, “The Mayo”, as he called it.

He wasn’t too busy break­ing sto­ries though to spot Kay Ma­her, from Birr, Co Of­faly, cross­ing the Oc­tagon, one fine day in 1968. (Al­most 50 years later he could still de­scribe the out­fit she was wear­ing.) Kay was a con­fec­tioner work­ing in the bak­ery at­tached to the Tea Cosy café at the time. This love of bak­ing would be­come a fam­ily-af­fair and, af­ter their wed­ding, the cou­ple opened a small cake shop over their home on James Street, and next door to St Mary’s Church. In­deed, af­ter a hia­tus while they raised their six chil­dren, Curry’s Cot­tage Home Bak­ery and Tea Room, re­opened on June 6th, 1998, with their sig­na­ture short­bread cakes, Yel­low Tops, back on the menu.

Marty, as he was known at home, was first and fore­most a fam­ily man. A favourite apho­rism was: “Kind­ness is some­thing the blind can see and the deaf can hear.”

He was hon­oured at the in­au­gu­ral Clew Bay Peo­ple of the Year Awards last March for “his self­less con­tri­bu­tion to the West­port com­mu­nity over many decades”. Martin’s gallery of his more pub­lic con­tri­bu­tions is un­der­pinned by his pas­sion for his “áit dúchais”, as Li­amy McNally, his soul mate and co-founder of the bi­en­nial Covie Week, wrote in the af­ter­math of his death.

This in­cluded in­volve­ment in the found­ing of St Patrick’s Drama Group, on whose stage he was a reg­u­lar player; the es­tab­lish­ment of West­port Credit Union in 1964; the West­port-Plougas­tel (Brit­tany) twin­ning which cel­e­brated its 40th an­niver­sary this year; and his weekly Covies Corner pro­gramme on West­port com­mu­nity ra­dio. He was also a great ex­po­nent of the valu­able con­tri­bu­tion of the FCA (Re­serve De­fence Forces) and was a com­man­dant West FCA for many years.

He is sur­vived by his lov­ing wife Kay; son David; daugh­ters Ka­rina, Sharon, Clodagh, Orla and Mar­tine; broth­ers John, Kevin, Ray and Ger; sis­ter Mar­i­anne; his nine grand­chil­dren; and ex­tended fam­ily and many friends.

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