Tragedy as Skye shinty stalwart dies in road accident

Donnie Martin. Pic Willie Urquhart

A man killed in a road accident in Skye yesterday (Thursday 5th May) has been named locally as 65-year old Donnie Martin – a well-known, popular and much-respected community figure, notably through his involvement with the sport of shinty.

Mr Martin, who worked for the Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association, and lived at Skeabost, died after the crash which took place on the A87 north of Portree shortly before 3pm.

He had been a hugely influential figure in shinty on the island and beyond over the last 50 years, and earlier this year was named as Chieftain of Skye Camanachd.

Skye councillor John Finlayson, a team-mate and friend for many years, led the tributes, saying: “I am both shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic death of Donnie Martin who I have known for over 50 years.

“Donnie and I actually shared lodgings together when pupils at Portree High School and were also shinty team mates at many different levels over many years. Donnie was a larger than life character and part of the fabric at Skye Camanachd where he contributed so much.

“First and foremost he was a family man who took pride in his children and grandchildren’s achievements and his death will not only leave a massive hole in their lives but also right across so many Skye communities.”

During his half century of involvement with shinty Donnie was a successful player – and a key part in Skye Camanachd’s resurgence following the club’s revival as a senior side in the sport in 1969.

He was part of the Portree High School team which enjoyed MacBean Cup success in 1974, and then won four Sutherland Cup medals in 1979, 1981, 1985 and 1988, the latter as player manager.

Off the field he held just about every position possible, and his shinty coaching influence stretched from the earliest years at North Skye primary schools, right the way through to the Skye senior team.

He led the club to juvenile success at under 14 and under 17 level, took charge of both Skye first and second teams and also managed the Scotland under-21 squad.  

Having been instrumental in securing the pitch and clubhouse at Pairc nan Laoch in Portree he was club groundsman for many years, was always on hand to aid with repairs and helped to fundraise extensively for Skye Camanachd’s teams and its social club.

As a mark of respect all shinty in Skye has been postponed this weekend.

Mr Martin is survived by his wife Alice, son Scott, daughter Kim and two grandchildren.

POLICE said they were appealing for information following the crash, that happened around 2.50pm on Thursday 5th May.

The incident involved a Volkswagen Caddy van and trailer and a Vauxhall Corsa.

The passengers of the other vehicle were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Sergeant Neil MacDonald of North Road Policing said: “At this time, our thoughts are with the deceased’s family and friends. We are continuing with enquiries to establish the full circumstances.

“We would urge anyone who may have witnessed the crash or have dash-cam footage that may help with our enquiries to get in touch.”

Anyone with any information should contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident number 1980 of Thursday, 5 May, 2022.