ONE of Lifford’s most colourful characters, Eamon Martin, has passed away.
Mr Martin, better known to friends and the wider community as ‘Brock’, ran a tyre depot and souvenir shop in the border town for decades.
He captured national headlines for his 46 year running battle with the planning authorities over the expansion of his business close to Lifford bridge.
Mr Martin’s ‘Souvenir Supermarket’ was once shortlisted for the title of Ireland’s finest souvenir shop.
In 2011 though a judge ruled that the shop would have to close because a building adjoining it contravened planning regulations.
The long running dispute culminated in Mr Martin being jailed at Buncrana Court for ten days for non-compliance. The pensioner served the ten days, despite only just having gone through major surgery which resulted in a pacemaker being fitted.
Eamon Martin’s struggles with the planners were well publicised and they centred on a partially built property just behind his souvenir shop.
The building had initially been earmarked as a Travel Lodge but when that fell through, it became a store for tyres.
This in turn led to claims by the authorities that it was a fire hazard, something Eamon Martin vehemently denied.
Eventually the courts ordered that Mr Martin would be fined €50 for every day the building remained in place.
The ruling brought to an end one of the longest running and most expensive judicial battles in Irish history.
Eamon Martin told the Donegal News at the time that he had poured €200,000 into fighting his corner and a further €180,000 on the disputed building.
The angry businessman argued in 2011, “I have been in business for 51 years and I have been on this site for 49 of them. I came here in 1962 and planning permission didn’t come into law until 1965 so I shouldn’t have to answer to them at all.
“But I’ll have to do as they say, even though it means jobs lost in the yard and the shop. It means I’m left without a business.
“A whole life’s work for nothing,” the distraught pensioner said.
Despite losing the wrangle though, Eamon Martin continued to operate his tyre business and could be found in his shop come rain, sun or shine.
As the sign on the wall said, “Martin’s Tyres: We sell tyres 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
Eamon Martin died on Wednesday at his home on Butcher Street, Lifford.
He was laid to rest this morning (Friday) following Requiem Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Murlog at 11am.
He is survived by his sons Eamon Jr, John and Stephen, his brother Danny and sisters Maeve, Margaret and Frances. He was predeceased by brothers Harry and Seamus.