Joe Martin Retires after 60 Years at Divanes Castleisland

Joe Martin on his last day at Divanes Castleisland after a career spanning 60 years to the day on which he started there in 1958.
Photograph: Courtesy of Divanes.
Joe Martin (centre) receiving a presentation from Denis (left) and John Divane to mark the 50th year of his association with Stanley Divane & Sons Ltd at their Killarney Road base in July 2008.
©Photograph: John Reidy

He’s a man of many parts – and you’ll see the point of the pun as we go on.

For Joe Martin retired from his job in the parts department of Divanes Castleisland this week on the 60th anniversary of the day he started there as a teenager in 1958.

Joe is also a dedicated member of the Island Players Drama Group and, there too, parts play a big role in his life.

Telegram Delivery Boy

After a brief stint as a part time telegram delivery boy with the local post office, 15 year old Joe Martin applied for a summer job at a fledgling garage – and got it.

The summer went by but Joe stayed at his job as he found his new employer a pleasure to work for. Thus began a life-long relationship with Killarney Road and its inhabitants and his boss, the late Stanley Divane.

Tuesday, July 15-1958

Joe’s first day at Divane’s Garage fell on a Tuesday, July 15-1958 ‘during the Killarney Races of that year, – Joe recalled – and the garage itself wasn’t yet four years old at the time.

Opened on Christmas Eve 1954 by Stanley Divane, the business has been built up well beyond the boundaries of where its late founder and the young Joe Martin would ever have dared to dream.

Joe well remembers his first day at the garage and the few words of advice from his mother about minding his work and the importance of having a job for life. This was all against a backdrop of generations of forced emigration and endemic poverty.

Petrol Pumps Duty

While his duties centred on the newly created Volkswagen garage stores, Joe made himself handy and looked after the petrol pumps in times of need.

“The stores were small at the time and there was only the one type of car coming in. But even then there was a great sense of organisation about the place.

Mary Kelliher (RIP) had an office beside the stores and they were at the heart of the business – and it was growing by the day.

Hear Them in Currow

There was a big staff here too for the times that were in it. The Flynn brothers, Ned and Dermot were here and you’d hear them singing in Currow from morning ‘til night.

We also had the likes of Denny O’Sullivan, Pats O’Donoghue, Richie Kingston and Patsy Flynn from Currow – a great footballer who played with London after,” Joe recalls.

Thinking of all the changes in the job over the years, Joe points to the computer as the greatest and most advantageous to the storeman’s trade.

Computer Studies

“Though I didn’t like it at the start I had to get down to a bit of study and I see now that we couldn’t do without it. There’s much better stuff in the new cars now and they never wear out. Exhausts were one part you couldn’t be without one time but now they just don’t wear out,” said Joe.

No stranger to honours in the worldwide VW scheme of things, Joe has been decorated by an All-Ireland Gold Pin for services rendered as a storeman in 1977.

Diamond Pin in 1981

This was followed by a worldwide Diamond Pin in 1981. There were more honours ‘in store’ for Joe as he was taken to Dublin to be feted for his services to the industry down through the years.

Joe also took part in the making of the RTE Radio 1 documentary on the history of the VW Beetle in Ireland in 2000.

The documentary maker, Donncha Ó Dulaing and Joe remain firm friends to this day. The now retired broadcaster did the honours in January 2007 when Joe’s son, Tommy Martin launched his book The Kingdom in the Empire – A Portrait of Kerry During World War One – which examines the effects of World War One on County Kerry.

Proud Occasion

That was another proud occasion for the Martin family and one on which the Divanes pulled out all the stops as facilitators.

Joe holds his most recent former employers, Denis and John Divane in the same high esteem as their father. In turn they, and his colleagues, value Joe’s contribution and safe pair of hands in the whole of their combined operation.

When Joe talks his way through the years he spent at the Killarney Road establishment he occasionally looked around in admiration at the splendour of the Stanley Divane Pavilion today.

Formally Retire

You could just imagine him wondering Where did it all go right ? – and with little or no thought to the part he played in its creation.

Joe will formally retire as Divanes Castleisland Parts Manager at a function in his honour at the River Island Hotel at 7pm on this Saturday, July 14th and 60 years almost to the day on which he made his first trip down Killarney Road as a proud employee of Stanley Divane & Sons, Castleisland.


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