From Sligo To Local Hero

By Tricia Purcell It was a winter morning last year when I was home listening to the Pat Kenny Show on the radio. Then a segment of the programme dealing with “Local Heroes” commenced.

By Tricia Purcell

It was a winter morning last year when I was home listening to the Pat Kenny Show on the radio. Then a segment of the programme dealing with “Local Heroes” commenced.

A similar TV programme was being aired weekly, featuring Drogheda town, and its attempts at fighting back in the current economic climate. The TV show was hosted by businessman, Fergal Quinn and now other provincial towns were following suit, to try and build on the success of the TV Show. Templemore was one such town.

Listening acutely when the name of my home town, Templemore, was mentioned, one voice in particular stood out as I had heard it for five years during my school days. It was my former business studies teacher, Mr Leyden. I suppose at this stage I should address him as Martin Leyden, business teacher in Our Lady’s Secondary School, Templemore.

Martin always emphasised the importance of community development when teaching business to his 5th and 6th year students. He himself practised what he preaches, which can be seen in his involvement with the Templemore Athletic Club. Most of his efforts have been directed towards youth and young adults through the provision of sports facilities.

Having listened to that edition of the Pat Kenny Show, I have been endeavouring to ‘track’ Martin down to find out more about the man who shone on the radio and what makes him tick. Local people I have spoken to since the radio show would say Martin was a top performer for Templemore that morning and the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words” is most definitely true in Martin’s case.

Mr Leyden has been involved in the club since 1979. During that time he has been involved in the provision of top class athletic facilities to benefit all ages, not only from Templemore and its catchment area but to benefit all persons from the south Midlands in general.

Total expenditure since Martin became involved on this capital development is estimated to be €1.3 million, with 80% of this being invested over the past nine years. Templemore AC now boasts a top class track and field facility, recently hosting the Munster championships.

Martin is a Sligo man by birth but has given over 30 years of his life, living and working in Templemore. While attending St Edward’s National School he met one of the biggest influences in his life, school principal, Mr Michael Connaughton (RIP). It was Mr Connaughton who encouraged Martin to become a teacher and develop his interest in community development. Mr Connaughton taught more than what was on the traditional curriculum, including horticulture every Friday afternoon. Martin took a great interest in this and took over the family garden, growing and supplying local shops with lettuce, onions, carrots and rhubarb. Through his entrepreneurial endeavour, Mr Leyden made enough money to go to summer school in the Gaeltacht and eventually attend third level college at UCG.

Full story in this week’s Tipperary Star.