Dublin, Vienna. November 19, 2021
Eileen Dunne, our colleague in the Irish Section, writes:
“It is with great sadness that I write from Dublin to tell you that our beloved colleague, Martin Alioth, passed away yesterday evening, not from Covid, but from cancer. Many of you will have fond memories of Martin at our various General Assemblies, in Ireland, and abroad, where he could always be relied upon for a relevant if not irreverent interjection! May he rest in peace…..”
Martin was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1954 and had moved to Ireland with his first wife, Gabrielle, herself a distinguished novelist, in 1984. It was a place, he said in a memorable 2018 TV interview, (in Swiss German) he found “virtually the opposite of Switzerland”.
Martin had stoically suffered pancreatic cancer for a year. An historian by education, he said he felt at home in Ireland because of its love of history and stories. In short order he had perfected an Irish brogue and the accompanying sense of humour.
He had studied the Middle Ages and economics both in Basel and in Salzburg. His doctorate in 1988 was for a thesis on medieval Strasbourg. He wrote extensively about Europe, and in recent years about the nightmare of Brexit and its significance.
Martin Alioth and his voice became famous in Switzerland and Austria for his elegant, well-informed contributions to German language media, notably for his witty and thoughtful contributions to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag from 2003 – 2018, and in Austria as a regular correspondent for the daily Der Standard and Austrian state TV and radio for reports on Ireland, the conflicts in the North, and of course on Brexit.
With his widow Dorothy he was in recent years much involved in managing classical musicians.