Professor, writer, scholar and senator remembered in Ballinamore

On Friday, August 17 a plaque was installed on the remaining wall of the house that Gus Martin was born in on High Street, Ballinamore.

On Friday, August 17 a plaque was installed on the remaining wall of the house that Gus Martin was born in on High Street, Ballinamore.

This commemoration occurred because of the rich and varied life of achievement that Gus enjoyed. He was a scholar, a teacher, a writer, a professor and a senator, as well as being the negotiator and fundraiser for the priceless Patrick Kavanagh Archive, now held by UCD.

His life long interest in theatre resulted in him becoming the chairman of the board of the Abbey Theatre. His dedication to Irish writing and poetry resulted in him becoming the Director of the Yeats International Summer School and the Director of the James Joyce International Summer School. The list of campaigns and achievements goes on, but the ceremony on August 17 and it’s subsequent discussion recalled the early Gus that grew up and was first formed in Leitrim.

Fr Dermod McCarthy recalled the first encounter between his mother Vera and the young Gus, an encounter that both challenged and encouraged his growing talents. Reference was made to his contributions to the Leitrim Guardian and the memoir that was surely lost in his early death. Gus cherished those memories and they informed both his literary critique and his creative output.

It is fitting that Gus will probably be best remembered for being the editor of Soundings, the best selling standard textbook for poetry in secondary schools for almost forty years, it is fitting because at his heart he was a teacher and education was fundamental to his personality.

Aengus Martin, son of the late Professor Augustine (Gus) Martin (1935-95) expressed his gratitude for the plaque on behalf of his mother Claire and siblings Breffni, Grainne, Niamh.

“Many thanks are owed for last Friday’s ceremony, firstly to Frank Feighan TD for getting the project off the ground and understanding it’s importance. The Library staff in Ballinamore in particular Mary Conefrey and Sean O’Suilleabhain who drove the project forward and brought it to a great conclusion. A special thanks must also be made to Fr Dermod McCarthy who clearly illustrated the life and the loss of Gus. Many thanks to Tommy Moran for leading the discussion and the Ballinamore festival for including the event in their programme. And finally a heart felt thanks to all the people, family and friends who attended and shared such warm funny and interesting tales of the young Augustine Martin.”