The late Brendan Martin in action
There was shock in a wide area of south Donegal last weekend as news of the death of Brendan Martin of Ballyshannon and Donegal town filtered through. Over the weekend huge crowds attended the wake in Ballyshannon and the funeral on Sunday in Ballyshannon and at Clar cemetery outside Donegal town.
A retired member of An Garda Siochana, Brendan was widely known for his work and also for his great sporting pedigree over a long number of years.
A former Donegal county minor in 1971, Brendan played and won championships with a number of teams. He was on defeated Clanna Gael teams in the county finals of 1971 and 1972. Among his immediate opponents as a Donegal minor in 1971 were Mickey Harte and Frank McGuigan of Tyrone (see panel at bottom). Brendan also played Co U-21 for Donegal.
After a short time working in Magees factory after he finished school at Donegal Vocational School, he joined An Garda Siochana and spent much of his early service in Claremorrris, Co Mayo.
While there he was on a Claremorris team that were defeated in a Mayo county final. He transferred back to his native Four Masters in the early 1980s and won two county championship medals in 1982 and 1984, the 1982 final being remembered in folklore for the goal he scored which won the match against Kilcar.
His work took him to Ballyshannon Garda Station where he spent most of his working life and he settled there and joined the local Aodh Ruadh club, winning two senior championship medals in 1986 and 1987. Possessed of great natural strength, his football career started in the half-back line but it was mostly in the full-forward line where he played.
He was very well regarded as a serving garda, carrying out his duties with a sense of community and fairness. His easygoing nature made him popular and he always had time to talk to people.
His great passion was sport whether playing or watching and he loved all sport; his other great interests were walking and cooking. He also took a great interest in his family and especially his grandchildren.
While working in Claremorris he once made national headlines when he helped a couple in distress on their way to the maternity hospital in Castlebar. The national headline ran 'Garda delivers baby'. The headline may have been taking liberties, it seems Brendan was on duty in the station during the night when the couple knocked for help as they weren't going to make it to the hospital and Brendan arranged to get the woman inside and quickly get a local nurse to deliver the baby.
After he retired from An Garda Siochana, he was well-known in the area as a bus driver and he enjoyed this activity as it mostly involved transporting sporting teams, schools and clubs.
His death in his mid sixties has been received with great sadness, such was his popularity in his adopted area and around his native Towanwilly and Donegal town.
His funeral Mass on Sunday in St Patrick's Church, Ballyshannon was celebrated by Fr Dermot Burke and saw guards of honour from the local Aodh Ruadh GAA club and An Garda Siochana. Gifts were carried to the altar by his three daughters representing his great interests - Donna with Aodh Ruadh and Four Masters jersies; Karen (a serving member) with a Garda cap and Amanda with his runners which he used for walking.
There was a further guard of honour by the Four Masters club when his remains were interred at Clar cemetery outside Donegal town.
He is survived by his wife Peggy; daughters Amanda, Karen and Donna; sons-in-law Paul Daniel and Rory Guinan; grandchildren Zara, Elijah, Isabelle and Lucia; brothers Sean, Bill, Charlie, Connie and a wide circle of family and friends.
1971 MINOR TEAM
The Donegal minor team that was selected for the first championship game against Monaghan in 1971 in Clones was: Donal Byrne (Ardara); Sean Houston (Glenties), Michael O'Donnell (Glenties), Pat Carr (Urris); Pearse Mullan (Four Masters), Hugh McGowan (Ballyshannon), Brian McNelis (Glencolmcille); P J McFadden (Dunfanaghy), Brendan Martin (Four Masters); John McAteer (Roger Casements), Declan McGill (Ardara), Louis Walsh (Killygordon); Sean McAteer (Roger Casements), Martin Sweeney (Ardara), Patch Crossan (St Eunans).
Subs: James Cunningham (Glenties), Gerry Rodgers and Eugene Ward (Rosses Rovers), Phillip McLoone (Ballyshannon), Sean McCarthy (St Eunans), Charles Boyle (Killybegs), Francis Carroll (Gweedore) and Hugh McDaid (Termon).
Donegal won that opening Minor Championship game against Monaghan 4-8 to 2-6, but they went down by 1-13 to 0-3 against Tyrone in the semi-final with Brendan Martin scoring one of the points.
Midfield on the Tyrone team was a young Frank McGuigan, while Mickey Harte was also a panel member but was injured for that match. He had played against Brendan and Donegal in the Ulster Minor League earlier in the year.
The Donegal team beaten by Tyrone in the Ulster semi-final was: Donal Byrne, Sean Houston, P Carr, B McNelis; P Mullan, M O'Donnell, L Walsh; M Lafferty and PJ McFadden; B Martin, D McGill, J McAteer; H McDaid, C Boyle, F Carroll. Sub: P McLoone for C Boyle.
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