Lecanvey and Switzerland
TWENTY years ago Ulrich (Uli) Martin and his wife Heike came to live in the beautiful home they made for themselves in Lecanvey, just a stone’s throw from the wild Atlantic Ocean. They divided their time between Switzerland and Ireland and, as the years marched on, more time was spent down by the ocean.
Uli,who died on September 24, was known to various people for his many passions. There was political Ulrich, who could sometimes be glimpsed on his Facebook page, railing against some moral injustice in his assured and level way. There was family Ulrich, who showed himself in the pride that would sometime betray in his countenance when he spoke of them. There was professional Ulrich, the shadow of whom travelled very lightly beside him when he was on this side of the water but who was obviously a major part of him in those other worlds which he inhabited.
Professional Ulrich was a highly accomplished man. An eminent figure in his long and full working life. But you would never know this because he told you. You would have to find these things out for yourself. West of Ireland Uli did not wear his professional accomplishments loudly on his sleeve, as others might have done.
Uli was a fun-loving man, an outdoors man, an adventurous, daring man and a most engaging conversationalist and raconteur.
After his passing there was an event in Staunton’s Pub in Levanvey. There was music, singing and stories, laughs, hugs and smiles. It was an evening that Uli would have loved and, of course, his spirit was there, carried by all present. In many ways, it was an interesting group. A collection of people who might not normally have ended up in the same room socialising together. Hard bitten men of the sea and soft spoken patrons of the arts rubbed shoulders and bounced off each other amicably. It is another sound measure of the man, this diversity of folk who interested and engaged him and who befriended him easily. Each as comfortable in his company as the other.
Heike and Uli were together forever, husband and wife for many great years. In Ireland they were an inseparable double act of vivacity and fun, of warmth and friendship.
Uli bought himself a yacht, in need of some repair. Through trials and tribulations, he saw the boat repaired and made seaworthy. He assembled a crew and they sailed her through many summer evenings in Clew Bay out of Mayo Sailing Club in Rosmoney. They competed and won trophies for their sailing. It is easy to see how this became a large part of the joy which the west of Ireland brought for Uli. This amalgam of ocean and adventure, of kinship, teamwork and achievement.
Perhaps my fondest memories will be of Patricia and me, sitting with Uli and Heike in their wonderful oceanside home, quietly watching the lights on Clare Island pop on, one by one, as the summer light faded away. Those are not evenings you tend to ever forget.
We, his diverse band of friends, all liked Uli very well indeed. How could we not? He was a lovely man. A man worth knowing. We all probably liked him for many different reasons, in the same way that there were so many different facets to his own life, but, he always saw the best in us.
Perhaps that, right there, is the very definition of a good friend.
Farewell Uli and thanks.
An extract from a tribute by Ken Armstrong.