He lived a life filled with ordinary things, but Martin McHugh was certainly no ordinary man. He thought he was, he never wanted to be anything else and that’s what made him special.
That special, ordinary man passed from this world recently and left behind a treasure-trove of memories, which will never fade away.
It’s rare for an entire community to grind to a halt but that’s exactly what happened when the man who loved family, fun, farming and fishing passed away surrounded by his heartbroken loved ones.
Martin McHugh left this life long before his time – or so we thought, but in hindsight he had lived a life filled to the very brim. In his own quiet way he had an influence more powerful than politicians and princes.
His powerful hands were there when others needed help; his comforting words were there when hearts were sad and his laughter was there in the happiest of times.
The man who grew up by the sparkling waters of the Abhann Dubh was powerful and gentle in equal measure. He was a man of immense strength who worked tirelessly to provide for his family and was the most loving, devoted husband and father one could imagine.
Martin was born into a family who were the finest of neighbours who always went out of their way to help others. They had a way of gladdening the heart with their generosity of time and spirit.
That’s certainly the way it was with Martin. He was the finest neighbour one could imagine; a fond, fond friend; a father who absolutely adored his darling daughters Lisa, Louise and Stephanie and a husband who was born to be Kathleen’s soul-mate.
Martin was a man who loved working the land, laughing and telling stories. He was a man who loved the craic and the company of his people along with a well-deserved pint of Guinness at the weekends. He understood the land where he grew from boy to man and watched the changing of the seasons with an expert eye. He was happy in his lovely world, working alongside his friends Dermot and the two TJ Lennon’s and his colleagues in Lennon’s Quarries, living in the love of his four ladies; laughing a lot, tending his sheep and taking care of everything in his own quiet way.
However, he liked nothing better than watching the river and keeping an eye on the guests who would swim into George’s Pool or The Lake in the winding waters, which bordered his farm.
Even in his final hours, he enquired was there any sign of a salmon in the waters he knew so well. His spirit had travelled to the edge of the river, which meant so much to him.
His friendship was unconditional - there was no counter on the favours given or received. Martin found neighbours’ wandering sheep; he was always part of a meitheal; he quietly took on tasks at times of trouble and if Martin was on hand then there was no need to worry.
He brought great glory to his home place when he and his friends became All-Ireland Tug-o-War champions in 1984. He enjoyed being part of a team with his friends, representing the people and the parish he loved so well and was very proud of his precious medal.
Martin died on February 22, 2018. He was a much-loved man. Thousands came from far and near to pay their respects at his funeral and removal and this provided great solace and comfort for his family.
He was flanked on his final journey by a huge guard of honour comprising of his colleagues in Lennon’s Quarries and members of Ballycroy GAA and Ballycroy Tug-o-War clubs and laid to rest in the soil of his beloved home parish.
Martin McHugh was a man who left an indelible mark on life without ever knowing it. He left precious, golden memories behind him and will forever be remembered fondly by all lucky enough to have known him.
His likes will not pass this way again. May his gentle soul rest in peace.