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Declan Martin: True gentleman whose generosity touched countless lives

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IN the times and weeks following the loss of life of Declan Martin, the identical tribute echoed repeatedly by means of messages to his household – a ‘true gentleman’, whose generosity touched numerous lives.

For a lot of his impression was first skilled as an educator.

For 35 years Declan helped form younger minds at St Louis Grammar Faculty, Ballymena.

As a instructor, he mixed a eager intelligence with a dry Belfast wit as he shared his love of historical past and Irish.

As deputy principal he was additionally a form, compassionate administrator whose door was at all times open for these in want of recommendation or a listening ear.

For schooling was not only a profession for Declan, it was a vocation grounded in his robust Christian religion.

And people values of reality, justice and the frequent good had been lived out all through each side of his life.

Born in 1945, Declan grew up on Clifton Drive in north Belfast, the one son of Charles and Kathleen Martin and massive brother to Colette.

His mother and father ran Sheridan’s Bar on the New Lodge Highway, however his father’s loss of life sadly meant he turned the person of the home on the tender age of seven.

Declan boarded at St McNissi’s School, Garron Tower and for a time thought-about priesthood.

He as a substitute accomplished a level in historical past and Irish at St Patrick’s School, Maynooth and secured a educating place at St Louis, the place he would stay his whole profession.

It was at St Louis that he met Jeanne MacKenzie, a music instructor with the schooling board whom he adopted down a hall someday and by no means regarded again.

She agreed to accompany him to the varsity formal. Six months later, Declan puzzled aloud whether or not it ought to be a Christmas or Easter marriage ceremony; Jeanne thought Christmas, they usually had been married on January 3 1974.

They’d have 4 youngsters, Eoin, Caitríona, Deirdre and Aisling, with 5 grandchildren now scattered throughout Eire, England and Australia.


Declan and Jeanne Martin with their youngsters and grandchildren

Declan and Jeanne burned with satisfaction of their youngsters’s achievements and in a ravishing eulogy at her father’s funeral, Aisling described how Jeanne “was his rock, and he was hers”.

“Love is a call, and mum and pop determined to belief every one other resolutely; they made a fairly good staff.”

The couple made their house in Ballymena and Declan threw himself into neighborhood life in his adopted house.

He was a dedicated member of St Vincent de Paul for 4 a long time, serving as president of the Ballymena department and as vice-president on the time of his loss of life.

Regional president Mary Waide mentioned he confirmed nice dedication and tenacity in reaching out to these in want.

“He was tireless and an inspiration to his fellow members in his humanity and sense of justice. Declan was held each within the highest esteem and affection by his Vincentian household. His dry wit, principally at his personal expense, was a tonic at conferences.”

Kieran Killough, who additionally labored alongside him at St Vincent de Paul, mentioned he was “the embodiment of a Vincentian”.

“On his visitations he confirmed the utmost respect and compassion to those that wanted assist. Declan cared about folks, he needed to make their lives higher and he definitely did.”

Declan was additionally an energetic member of the Order of Malta, having certified as a sophisticated first aider after an accident in class revealed that not one of the workers had been skilled in first help. He would move on his expertise in flip to St Louis pupils.


On obligation with with Order of Malta with Kieran Ervine and Jeanne Martin

He was additionally a board member of Ballymena SureStart.

And for 10 years he and Jeanne helped younger folks discover their religion by means of the Youth Encounter programme.

In reality, Declan was so busy he was described as a revolving door – and for that reason he discovered Covid restrictions significantly tough.

Lockdown additionally stopped his day by day attendance at All Saints Church, though he used it as a possibility to embark on a digital tour of Eire’s parishes.

His relentless schedule had first been interrupted 20 years earlier when he was identified with most cancers, requiring the elimination of his larynx.

But when something, the expertise made him extra decided to make use of his time productively.


Declan Martin on the launch of his guide Irish Politics in Postcards with daughters Deirdre and Aisling Martin his spouse Jeanne

In retirement Declan managed to jot down two books on Irish political postcards – his household joked that for a person with no voice, he spoke volumes.

Certainly, he had a love of all issues Irish – the language, historical past and tradition – in addition to a ‘wee dram’ of whiskey when stress-free at house.

In a letter to Jeanne, good friend and former colleague Malachy Duffin mentioned he was “the embodiment of the whole lot that’s wholesome and holy – his love of household, his occupation, his God, the poor, the downtrodden, his language and tradition”.

“Declan was a person aside. A person with an exquisite imaginative and prescient of life, he was at all times at peace with everybody round him as a result of he was at all times at peace inside himself.

“He lived and beloved life with a ravishing perspective of detachment, grace and humour – at all times giving the sense that he noticed a much bigger image it doesn’t matter what got here his method.”

In her eulogy, Aisling additionally described how her father’s generosity prolonged to his information, time, cash and compassion.

“But together with his generosity he was humble. He by no means regarded for any recognition. He was humility personified,” she mentioned.

“Daddy introduced a lot love and pleasure in life. In loss of life, he’ll stay eternally within the hearts of everybody who knew him. There are not any phrases to explain how a lot he will likely be missed.”

Declan Martin died on August 23 surrounded by his loving household.

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