Senator Martin Fitzgerald was born in Charlestown in 1867 but moved to Dublin at an early age. He was born in Main St, Charlestown in the premises now owned by JJ Casey, it is now known as Casey's Stores, specialising in Hardware.
The Fitzgerald family operated a Drapery Store, and the last registered owner was a Michael Fitzgerald. He or his estate sold the business to the McDonnell family in the early 1900's.
Senator Fitzgerald was also known as Senator Martin Tom. He was probably one of the best-known members of the business community in Dublin, as head of the rectifying distillers in Middle Abbey St.
He was also a familiar figure in sporting circles as the owner of several racehorses and a generous patron of sport in general.
He was a man of outstanding business capacity and a remarkable force of character.
During the troubles of Easter week 1916, his Abbey St premises were destroyed by fire, but with characteristic energy he secured commodious premises in Thomas St and carried on business while the Abbey St premises was being rebuilt, a task which occupied almost four years.
In 1919, the then Martin Fitzgerald entered the domain of journalism, when he undertook the task of piloting the "Freeman's Journal".
More than once he fell foul of the British authorities and on one occasion he was tried by court martial and ordered to pay a fine of £3,000 and sentenced to two terms of six months imprisonment to run concurrently. He refused to pay the fine and served six weeks of the sentence.
He was also interested in Boxing and Racing and promoted the fight between Tommy Burns and Jem Roche. He had horses in training in the Curragh and also in England, where his colours were well known.
He was identified with Mr Richard Croker when the latter was starting his stud at Glencairn, and he had always a great belief in the merits of Orby as a sire. One of the best known horses that he bred, 'Fitz Orb', was by Mr Croker's horse.
He was nominated by the Government of WT Cosgrave, as member of the first Senate of An Saorstat. While a member of the Senate, the following are some of the issues he was interested in: Import and Export Duties, Damage to Property, Public Accountancy, Shop Hours (Drapery Trades), and Oireachtas Staff-Damage.
One of his famous statements was: If a debt was a debt six weeks ago, it ought to be a debt to-day.
He died in March 1927 and left a widow and six children.
© Cathal Henry 2005