During his funeral service his son Thomas spoke of his father’s devotion to his wife and family and of his and their sadness that he had received no apology for the manner in which he was treated by those in positions of power in his own country. There were no political leaders at the funeral services, and no party issued a statement of regret at his passing.
In his eulogy in St Michael’s Church in Urris, Thomas Gilmartin (junior) said: ‘It is difficult to know where to begin. There are so many stories, so many achievements, so many ways in which my father left his mark that I could keep you here until my own funeral if I were to try to include even most of it. Suffice it to say, he was a one-off. I said to my wife, in the hour after his passing, that there was now a Dad-shaped hole in the universe.
‘Dad grew up in Lislary, county Sligo, the oldest boy born to James and Kathleen Gilmartin. As a boy he was able to handle horses, fish for his supper, work in the fields, and, like his father before him, was an expert ploughman. But apart from being physically strong and able from such a young age, he was extraordinarily intelligent and inquisitive about the world around him. It wasn’t uncommon, even in recent years, to hear him recite entire poems, from Robert Service’s “Songs of the Yukon”, word for word, which he had taught himself as a youngster.
‘Unfortunately, my father was let down repeatedly by men for whom moral scruples, of the type my father lived by, were viewed as weakness. Later, giving evidence about his experience, he never wavered in his commitment to the truth, even when subjected to an extraordinary campaign of vilification. He would never perjure himself, even when it was disadvantageous for him to tell the truth, such was his honesty, so strong was his religious faith.
‘Dad loved his country and was a proud Irishman. It truly grieved him, as the son of a man who fought for his country’s independence, to see the sacrifices of his father’s generation discarded by lesser men. It is a source of great sadness to us, his family, that Dad was never truly given the credit he deserved for what he did, or the apology he was owed for what was done to him. He deserved better.’
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