He used his massive frame, and influence, to protect up-and-coming young footballers during his time as one of Donegal’s greatest ever Gaelic players.
Now, a trust fund to help vulnerable young people has been set up in honour of the late Martin Griffin.
The gentle giant from the Twin Towns passed away in November 2021, aged just 67.
‘Big Griff’, as he was affectionately known to thousands of adoring Donegal fans, made a huge name for himself since his debut for the county in 1973.
He won three Ulster medals with Donegal over three decades – 1974, 1983 and in 1990 – abd was also a member of the last MacCumhaills team to win a county championship, in 1977. At the age of 36, Griffin was recalled by Brian McEniff for the Ulster Final in 1990.
He attracted many admirers with his commanding performances at full back and midfield. A fierce competitor on the pitch, he is remembered as a gentle giant off it.
To describe Griffin as a legend is no overstatement, considering he is often chronicled as Donegal’s best player ever by none other than Martin McHugh.
The diminutive Kilcar native said the Stranorlar man protected and guided him when he started out as a young man on the senior county team. It is somewhat fitting that a trust has now been set up in his name to offer protection and guidance to vulnerable young people.
The Martin Griffin Fund was launched in recent weeks by his daughters, Anne Marie and Donna, with an initial goal of €10,000.
That money will go towards supporting young people through sports or education assistance.
“In establishing this fund, our core objective is to have a pocket of money to help young people in our community,” a statement from the Griffin girls read.
“Whether it is buying a pair of football boots for a young person who cannot afford them, organising transport for someone who can’t get to football practice, or setting up a youth club and educational programme for young people to help them explore their gifts and talents, to build their self esteem and confidence. We want to be the champion that many young people don’t have, the shoulder to lean on and a friend to call on when in trouble.”
The sisters said they were inspired by the many stories they have heard, both before and after his sudden death, about how their father helped others in his own quiet, discreet way.
“In meeting people in the time since daddy passed away, and hearing their stories and memories combined with our own, has encouraged us to ensure his life, and those who he impacted positively, was not in vein and to further do our very best to ensure that his memory will live on and impact more people, particularly young people,” they explained.
“As many of you who knew daddy will know, he had incredible highs in his life and, sadly, incredible lows,” they continued.
“But this is not a unique story, it is the story of most of us who live and struggle with our demons and the economic, psychological and social challenges we face.
“As we look at society today, we know that many young people are facing these same challenges. We want to ease some of those burdens, like loneliness, economic disadvantage and exclusion. We want to create a space in daddy’s name where young people have a sense of belonging in their community.”
The girls are hoping to establish, administer and transparently govern the fund themselves.
If you are interested in helping, or would have any advice or guidance for them, please get in touch via the Martin Griffin Fund Facebook page.
The Big Man From Drumboe
The launch of the Martin Griffin Fund also coincides with the release this week of a specially written song about the Twin Towns legend by the talented Pat McLean.
You can listen to the wonderfully crafted ‘The Big Man From Drumboe’ here
The Ballybofey singer/songwriter is also famous for penning hits for another Donegal great, Daniel O’Donnell.Tags: