Marty Whelan: 'Losing a parent is never easy, especially when you carry the coffin as an only child'
Broadcaster Marty Whelan has reflected on the heartbreaking experience of losing both his parents and dealing with their deaths as an only child.
As he writes his personal memoir, the 59-year-old opened up to Brendan O’Connor on RTE Radio One this morning.
“Gill and MacMillan twisted my arm into writing it, I’d never thought of doing it before but it’s strangely enlightening and I’m thoroughly enjoying it,” Marty revealed.
“It hits you from time to time, as you think about happy times and sad times,” the Winning Streak host added.
One such sad time is recalling the death of his beloved mother.
“The loss of parents will always be sad, my mum only died within the last two years. I was also incredibly close to my dad but he has been gone since 1998.”
As an only child, the Dublin native said he was particularly close to his mother after the death of his father.
“Once my father was gone, me and my wife Maria looked after her, she lived on her own for years but for the last six months she lived with us,” he said.
Marty, who lives in Malahide with Maria and his two children, spoke of the “trauma” watching the helplessness of his mother as she fell ill, but maintains that his memories are all positive.
“When you walk down behind a coffin – there’s no one else who’s lost that parent on that day. You’re totally alone on that day. Who do you ring? Maria and my children are a great unit, but when you’re on your own it’s a totally different way of operating. You just row in, you’re the carer.”
Marty spoke nostalgically about his late father, who worked in Clerys as a salesman for 36 years.
“My first job was in Clerys when I came out of St Pauls,” Marty revealed. “I was selling these navy gabardine coats to French students. My mum worked in a ladies outfitters named Cassidy’s on Georges Street too, so I like clothes. Clothes matter to me, it’s in my genes.”
The broadcaster added that he is “terribly sad” for those who lost their jobs when the iconic store closed its doors for good last month.
“I think it’s appalling and terribly sad how it ended. Terribly sad for people who have given their lives… it’s not like a lot of other places, its devastated. People are ruined in many ways. I feel so sorry for the history and the people, especially couples, who lost their jobs.”
The eternal optimist added that he is delighted to be back on screens presenting Winning Streak after a brief break. He is also due to travel to Verona soon as part of an RTE Lyric FM summer broadcast from the opera.
“You’ve got to get out there and do what you do. I’m blessed with a sunny disposition and an optimistic air. Glass half full - that’s not a vacuous way of living, it’s just how I am. It’s in my nature and I got that from my folks.”