King’s Hill, Westport, Co Mayo
Martin McNally was born to Mai and Joe “Bellum” McNally, on Peter Street, Westport, Co Mayo, on November 4, 1932. He left school at a young age to drive trucks and haul logs with his father in Connemara for PJ Kelly’s. He first left Westport in his early 20s to work in Aden in the Middle East, now modern-day Yemen, before going to America to build a new life for himself in Chicago, Illinois, in 1955. He served honourably in the American Army from 1956 to 1959, where he spent time at Fort Hood in Texas and was stationed in Germany at the same time as none other than Elvis Presley!
He got a US driving licence for trucks in 1959 and was just about to get his union card when he got word that he was needed at home. He came back to Westport to take care of his father, his little sister Mary and their wonderful grandmother Honor after the untimely death of his beloved mother. It was here that he met and fell in love with beautiful Eileen Darmody from Tipperary and they married in 1961. They moved to Carlow when Marty got a job at the open cast mines, bought a house and had the first of their five children, Mary and Breda. Their son Joe was later born in Thurles and they had moved back to Westport by the time Helena and Veronica were born in Castlebar.
At a time when numerous Westport families were living in town, Marty said that the years that they spent living in the flats (behind what is now Carraig Donn) on Bridge Street were the happiest of his life. The family moved to Horkan’s Hill in the early 1970s before Marty bought a serviced site on King’s Hill and built a beautiful bright bungalow that he called home to the end of his days.
Over the years, Marty helped to build the Channel Tunnel and the oil infrastructure around Abu Dhabi, working in 50°C heat in a cabin with no air conditioning. He worked on laying pipelines in the Sahara Desert, the North Sea and Whiddy Island in Bantry, amongst others. He travelled the world and worked long, hard hours to provide for his family. Former co-workers spoke of how he was a very helpful colleague, operating some ‘monsters of cranes’ in his day in what was highly skilled and extremely precise work in a time before computers, remote monitors and modern technology.
In another life, Marty might also have been a mechanic with his curious nature, a keen interest in how all things worked and an uncanny way of absorbing information from anything and everything around him. He liked nothing better than to look under the hood of a car and inspect the inner workings of the engine underneath! Added to that was his encyclopaedic memory for dates and details, he could tell you what year he brought home beautiful clocks, watches, dolls and even blankets from different parts of the world back in the 1960s and 1970s.
Marty was a very particular man and kept his affairs in immaculate order, from the impeccable grass verges in the garden to his well-ordered shelves in the garage and his pristine car, a place for everything and everything in its place. He was fiercely independent and always clean-shaven and well-dressed. He was quite the minimalist, he hoarded nothing and was the picture of considered efficiency. He liked clean lines and his daily routine. Neighbours who saw him passing in his Volkswagen every morning said they could set their clocks by him!
Marty has been described by many as a real gentleman; a private yet friendly neighbour who always had time for a chat and a hello for everyone; a quiet man and a good friend, a lovely, authentic, direct and honourable man. He was well-read and knowledgeable about a whole host of world and Westport affairs and always one with whom you could have a good conversation.
Marty had a good soul, a good heart and good intentions. He was extremely generous and a hero to some. For so many times in his life he quietly helped and supported others. He was of a generation that bore life without complaint and he was very definitely one of the ‘old stock’……They don’t make them like Marty McNally anymore……
Marty was diagnosed with terminal cancer only in January of this year, so his was a short illness and one that he bore stoically and privately. He died on May 26, 2022 and will be much missed by many, most especially daughters Mary, Breda and Veronica, grandchildren Síne, Mark and Emily, sister Mary and nephews and niece.
We remember also at this time his beloved wife Eileen, daughter Helena, son Joe and all in the extended McNally and Darmody families who went before him. May they guide his gentle soul home to rest in peace with them.
Go raibh suaimhneas síoraí air.