Martin Curry – An Appreciation
Storyteller and quintessential ‘Covie’
Martin Curry: huge contribution to the Westport community over many decades
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 at Drimurla, Newport.
A community man, devout Catholic and quintessential Covie (the vernacular for a Westport native), there is no wonder in the fact that longtime journalist and editor for a time 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, 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.