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For obvious reasons I couldn’t resist this gem of an article from The Irish Times sent to me by Mel Morgan, Head Of Sales at Independent ATM Company (as the name suggests an independent player in the vast global ATM sector) in Ireland.
It was written by Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times since 1997, a fine journalist who has been with the media title since 1994.
It’s called ‘In a Word… Martin’ and its lovely teaser, in deference to the greatest Martin of all, US civil rights leader Martin Luther King, reads, ‘I had a dream, and it involved Martins. Lots of Martins.’
The story is a satirical take (alas, one that could likely imitate life) on a visit to the Republic of Ireland by UK leader Boris Johnson for the first time since Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin assumed office. I’ll rightly direct you to The Irish Times for the full article but with much pleasure I quote some of the most sublime excerpts.
Boris was being introduced to dignitaries: “Do I address you as Teashop or Meehaul? I suppose I should avoid Mick?” Boris asked, jocosely. To which the Taoiseach responded: “Whatever you prefer. We’re not hung up on titles here.” Which Boris found “quite extraordinary”.
He was introduced to Catholic Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin, then the Catholic Primate of Ireland Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, at which Boris turned to the Taoiseach and said admiringly, “Really!”, before shaking the second Archbishop Martin’s hand.
“And this is our Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin,” said the Taoiseach.
After the UK PM expresses his utmost admiration at his counterpart’s achievement in getting all his “relations” into power, noting that, alas, such moves would never be tolerated in the UK, the Taoiseach calms Boris’s enthusiasm.
“No, no. It’s not like that at all. You’ve got it all wrong. None of them is related to me. And none of the other Martins here is related to any of the others, either.”
Boris stared at him, unbelieving, a knowing smile at the corners of his mouth. “Really? And what’s the population of Ireland?” he asked.
“Just over 4.9 million,” said the Taoiseach.
“And, Meehaul, out of such a small population, you expect me to believe that none of these Martins in leading positions is related to you, or to one another?”
The Taoiseach just shook his head. “That is the case,” he said.
At which Boris commented: “And to think I once believed you were all called Murphy over here.”
Footnote (for the special attention of my business partner Dermot Davitt, who is based in Galway): As McGarry notes, the Martins are one of the 14 original tribes of Galway, a reference to the 14 merchant families who dominated the city and province between the mid-13th and late 19th centuries.
According to geni.com, it is believed that one Oliver Martin was the first of the name to settle in Ireland, arriving as part of the Anglo-Norman invasion in the late 12th century. The name was derived from ‘Martius’, meaning ‘warlike’.
Another theory, and the one that I as the son of an Irish Catholic mother insist is the accurate one, claims that the Martins were descendants of the ancient Firbolg people, one of the very first arrivals on the island. The Firbolgs were great adventurers and as a result were usually individuals separated from their tribes.
For a Kiwi from Irish and Canadian (originally Scottish) stock having moved to Britain and now to Hong Kong and soon on to pastures new once more – to anywhere, just anywhere, that I can escape those terrible 21st Century reverse invaders of Europe, the Boris tribe – that sounds about right. Martin the Firbolg it shall be.