Martin Thomas and Venetia Quick in 2014
I first met Martin Thomas, known to so many as Murt but always as Martin to me, 25 years ago in The Factory, in what were the great old days of that building. It was a very special place then and it shaped all of the lives of everyone who worked there in one way or another.
We were all a little younger then, a little hotter and a little edgier, but only a little. Most of the Factory Folk still have it! And Martin was a part of that Family. He was an entertainment industry enigma, and knew everyone in the building through either music, clubbing or general cavorting, which was one of his favorite pastimes.
He was popular and hip and kind of adored by everyone who knew him, and at that time I never really got it. I always put it down to that fact that he ran the best Club nights in the country, Strictly Fish and Strictly Handbag, and that everyone sucked up to him to get in for Free, or to even just get in. The Clubs were that popular. It was in the days when VIP’s were actually VIP’s and where the rest of us had to queue, unless you knew Martin.
So Martin remained something of an oddity to me for quite a number of years, a beautiful colourful peacock, loud and brash and what I though then was the absolute total and utter opposite of me. Until one day in that most Hallowed of Sacred Places, The Cafe at The Factory, I came flouncing in to order a beverage. I ordered my usual half caffeinated, skinny latte with a spoonful of cinnamon and a tiny sprinkling of chocolate.
Remember, this was in the pre-Starbucks days when it was either tea or coffee. As I left the Cafe I heard him say, semi under his breath, and semi meant to be heard, ‘fucking ponce’ in a kind of jovial way. But I heard him, I swished around, I used to swish quite a lot back then, and I said ‘you’re just a grumpy fuck’. And there it was, the ice was broken. We had the measure of each other. And from that day on we got on.
What started with respect for each other’s honesty, we were both quite right in our own ways, the perfumed ponce and the grumpy fuck. We were not best buddies or anything close back then, but we got on and we were almost pals.
From then on he became a part of my life, literally, even just geographically! He was always around The Factory, he was always around Town and eventually he was always around Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount, where we both ended up living. Me with Steven, and Martin with the utterly fabulous Venetia….
…During that last hospital visit we spoke about those early days in the Factory, the days of the Ponce and The Grump. He laughed, yes, that Martin laugh, and we both agreed what really made us friends in the end of the day.
We both live by a rule that pervades our entire lives – never wait in your life to tell people from your deathbed what you think of them or how you feel about them. Tell them to go fuck themselves whilst your still alive!!
I started with Martin thinking he was loud and brash with little substance, and finished yesterday utterly devastated about a friend who has supported me with kindness, friendship and goodness over the last few years, and especially the last 6 months.
He was an amazing, unique, colourful, interesting, annoying, beautiful creation. We will never see his likes again – we are a really, really good man down.
Eamon Farrell in a Facebook tribute to Ringsend resident, artisan grocer and Dublin nightlife legend, Martin Thomas who has died from cancer. He leaves behind a wife, Venetia Quick and three young sons.
Pic by Tony Gavin via Independent.ie