Martin McCrossan was a great man and I’m not saying that lightly. Word of his passing came shortly after I’d written last week’s column and I’d like to pay tribute to him, however belated.
Martin achieved something that has eluded even some academic historians. There’s no agreed narrative on our past. There are at least two competing narratives.
Not only was Martin McCrossan one of the first to recognise Derry’s tourism potential but, in telling the city’s story, he could navigate his way through the twists and turns of four centuries with immense skill and not a little humour. His city walking tours were enjoyable, entertaining and informative and fortunately he had trained a number of other guides to his own high standards.
One of Martin’s greatest assets was the warmth of his personality. Even strangers quickly warmed to him. He was always ready with a smile and a word of encouragement for everyone. He was a consummate business man who richly deserved his success but he was so much more. He was a thoroughly civic minded citizen. A frequent contributor to local radio and television debates on topical issues, Martin always talked sense. Martin McCrossan was made for television – he always looked and sounded well. He also did immense work for local charities. ‘Mr Derry’ loved the city he was so proud of and Derry loved him. He will be terribly missed.