GREAT COLLEAGUE Martin Ayres
THE early days of the new year unfortunately brought some sad tidings to the door of The Mayo News. Another of our former colleagues and one of the nicest men you could meet, Martin Ayres, had passed away in England.
The reaction amongst all all of us who had the pleasure of Martin’s company over the years was one of genuine sadness, mixed with the rekindling of some very fond memories from our days working together in The Fairgreen.
Martin came into our lives in The Mayo News after he moved to live in Ayle, outside Westport. As a former editor of the world-famous Cycling Weekly magazine, it wasn’t long before he became the obvious choice to be our cycling correspondent.
And for many years Martin’s finely-honed craft as a journalist and wordsmith, his kind and engaging manner with people, his curious mind, his work ethic, and his insatiable passion for the sport and his profession, made him the perfect correspondent and colleague.
Martin never missed a deadline or a bike race, his list of contacts meant that he never missed a story (big or small) either, and he hit the word-count target every time like a marksman.
Every conversation with Martin was a reminder that he loved everything about working as a journalist who covered cycling. The speed, stamina and skill of the bike-riders, the breathtaking scenery he saw and wrote about following races around Mayo and Connacht, and the people he met along the way all brought out the best in him.
During his days on the cycling beat, Martin was never happier than chatting to the likes of Padraig Marrey or Charles Prendergast or David O’Loughlin, people with the same passion, understanding and love of cycling as he had.
But Martin wasn’t just a skilled journalist, he was also a top-class sub-editor who spent countless hours proof-reading and sub-editing everything from farming to Fahy notes at his desk in our office.
He went about his business quietly, diligently, without any fuss or fanfare, but he played his part in the background for hundreds of issues of The Mayo News.
Making sure that all the t’s were crossed and i’s dotted.
I had the pleasure of many great chats with Martin on tea-breaks and at various social outings, and he was easy and engaging company. A man who could talk and listen in equal measure and someone who had a great interest in people, places and the world in general.
It was fitting that Martin was inducted into Cycling Connacht’s ‘Hall of Fame’ last October to mark his contribution to promoting cycling in the region and his lifetime of love for the sport.
‘Martin’s dedication to the sport inspired many to take up cycling and his boundless enthusiasm was a huge asset to the community,’ the award citation read at the time.
How right it was.
Not long after that award was presented, Martin and his wife Mary returned to England where he saw out the final months of his well-lived life.
To Mary, and to Martin’s family, we extend our deepest sympathy.
May his gentle soul rest in peace.