Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

WALSH Martin John né le 18 décembre 1904 à Waterford
dans le diocèse de Waterford and Lismore, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 5 juin 1929
prêtre le 12 juin 1932
décédé le 24 mai 1946

1933-1940 missionnaire au Nigeria, Lagos
1940-1946 Blackrock Road, Cork malade, soins

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 24 mai 1946,
à l'âge de 42 ans

Le père Martin John WALSH (1904 - 1946)

A Cork (Irlande), le 24 mai 1946, retour à Dieu du père Martin J Walsh, à l'âge de 42 ans.

Martin Walsh naquit à Waterford (Irlande) en 1904. Il fit ses études dans les maisons de la Société. Il fit le serment en 1928 et fut ordonné prêtre en 1932. Destiné au vicariat de la Côte du Bénin, il travailla à Lagos de 1933 à 1940, avec un congé en 1937-1938. Rentré malade en 1940, il resta à la maison de Blackrock Road, à Cork.

Le père Martin Walsh, avec sa grande bonté, sa gaieté simple et son rire facile, était très estimé de ses confrères et des Noirs.

Father Martin John WALSH (1904 - 1946)

Martin Walsh was born at Lower Yellow Road, Waterford, in the parish of Ballybricken, in the diocese of Waterford and Lismore, on 18 December 1904. He died in the Mercy hospital, Cork, on 24 May 1946.

Martin studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1921 1922), and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1923 25), before joining the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1926. He studied theology at Dromantine, Co Down, from 1928 1932. He was received as a member of the Society on 5 June 1929, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 12 June 1932. Seven classmates were ordained with him on that day.

After ordination Martin was appointed to the vicariate of the Bight of Benin, in south western Nigeria. He travelled to Nigeria with a party of missionaries led by the Provincial, Stephen Harrington (who had been elected at the Assembly of 1931), arriving at Lagos in October 1932. After a brief period at Holy Cross cathedral mission, the vicar apostolic, Bishop Francis O'Rourke, posted Martin to Ado Ekiti district, where Philip Corish was superior. The principal station of Ado had been founded in 1917 under the patronage of St. George. In 1935 Martin was transferred to the district of Topo Badagry, where Patrick Hughes was superior. The island of Topo had been leased to the mission by government in 1874. Subsequently a coconut farm had been planted which became an important source of revenue for the vicariate through the sale of copra (dried fruit of the coconut used for making soap and cosmetics). Topo had a boarding school (the boys helped in the farm), also a convent with orphanage attached, and of course a church and mission. There were also ten outstations to be cared for, the most important of which was Badagry which had been founded in 1899. In October 1936 Martin was appointed superior of Lafiaji mission, the 'second principal station' of Lagos district. Lafiaji was a busy 'parish' with over 2,300 Catholic members and several hundred catechumens.

Towards the end of his first tour of duty, Martin's health began to give cause for concern, and the beginning of a progressive deafness was manifest. He came home in March 1937 and received all the medical attention possible, so that in exactly a year, March 1938, he was passed fit to return to his mission. Now an experienced missionary, he was appointed superior of Ijebu Ode district, with Lawrence Dolan as his assistant. This was another busy district (it was erected as a diocese in 1969), with some 30 outstations. In December 1939 Martin was diagnosed as having tuberculosis and was invalided home to Ireland. The 'visitor', responsible to the Provincial for the welfare of the members, wrote a report to the Provincial, Stephen Harrington, which shows the gravity of Martin's situation. 'He is suffering from renal tuberculosis. During the past year he had been subject to periodical attacks of cystitis. The doctors thought that it was of no consequence a mere consequence of blackwater fever he had a few years ago. Last week when forwarding me religious examination papers he casually mentioned that he was suffering. I went immediately to see him. He had been receiving treatment from the local doctor without result. I sent him to Lagos. He was put under X Ray there by the doctors who pronounced that one of his kidneys was badly affected. The doctor told me that he might possibly be well again after a term of two years treatment, but he would have to lose one of his kidneys. I am sending him home by the first available ship'.

On his arrival in Ireland, in February 1940, Martin entered the Mater hospital, in Dublin, where medical examination revealed the presence of tuberculosis in both kidneys. An operation was ruled out and instead he received injections to relieve symptoms. On the recommendation of his doctors he was transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes hospital, Dun Laoghaire, where he remained until the end of the year. He then took up residence in the Province's headquarters at Blackrock Road. Martin's condition alternated between relapse and rally for two years, before stabilising. During his stay in hospital Martin wrote a number of poignant letters to Stephen Harrington. In one he wrote: 'I would have enjoyed those letters on the missions, but now they only make me sad. However God does not want me to work for Him now, but to suffer a little for Him. I am uniting all with the sufferings of my Saviour for my own vicariate and that I may get health or strength to go back again'. In 1943 it was thought that he might be well enough to attempt a mission to Egypt. However medical advice was against this proposal and soon his health took a serious turn for the worse. In May 1946 he was hospitalised in Cork. Martin was only 41 years old when he died.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.