McDonogh, Martin (Mac Donnchada, Máirtin) (1858–1934), merchant, industrialist, and TD, was born in Lettermullen, Galway, eldest son among three sons and two daughters of Thomas Redmond McDonogh (d. 1902), merchant, originally of Lettermullen and later Galway, and his wife Honoria (d. 1883). Initially educated at the Jesuit College, Galway, Martin later attended Tullabeg College, Co. Carlow, before entering his father's business.
Thomas Redmond McDonogh moved his family to Galway in the early 1860s to take up a position with a company that ran a sawmill and was owned by the Comerford family. His brother had married into the family and Thomas Redmond quickly moved from the position of foreman to partner within the firm, which became McDonogh & Comerford by the early 1870s. By the end of the decade Thomas Redmond was in complete control, and when Martin joined the firm it was renamed Thomas Redmond & Sons. In addition to the sawmill, Martin's mother kept a grocer and general provisions shop in High St. that prospered due to the fact that the family maintained its connections with merchant relations in Connemara.
Thus when Martin joined the family business it was already a thriving enterprise. However, over the next fifty years he transformed it into a much larger commercial enterprise that saw him involved in nearly every aspect of commercial and civic life in Galway. By the time of his father's death (1902) Martin was already the driving force behind the family business and was responsible for diversifying into different industries such as flour milling. He significantly increased the size of the provisions business by importing numerous products such as coal, iron, timber, and fertilisers, and used the growth of the railways to expand the distribution side of the business. In September 1908 the Galway Development Association hosted the ‘Great Galway Exhibition’, an industrial showcase designed to promote indigenous enterprise. Martin was heavily involved in the organisation of the event and the proceedings themselves, and several McDonogh products won prizes.
The trade union movement that was gathering momentum in Ireland during the second decade of the twentieth century found much support in Galway. The Galway Workers & General Labourers Union (GWGLU) was founded in 1911, much to the dislike of Martin McDonogh, and in response he founded the Galway Employers Federation (GEF). In January 1912 the two organisations attempted to negotiate conditions of employment but the possibility of any agreement was threatened when the GEF posted a ‘schedule of wages’. This was viewed by the GWGLU as prejudicial to the outcome of negotiations, and talks were broken off. The employers responded with an immediate lockout in twenty-three workplaces that left nearly 600 people out of work. A compromise was reached in March 1912 that provided for improved working conditions. However, a year later (March 1913) matters came to a head again, by which time the GWGLU had become part of the National Union of Dock Labourers based in Liverpool. Determined not to give in to the unions, two weeks into the strike McDonogh called on the Shipping Federation of Great Britain (SFGB) for assistance. The SFGB, a strike-breaking employers’ organisation, sent nearly fifty men to Galway to unload one of McDonogh's ships that had remained untouched since the strike. Despite attracting angry crowds, the men succeeded in their task with the aid of police protection.
The fertiliser distribution business was extremely lucrative because McDonogh had inherited the agency for an English firm from a friend with an established client base. However, when his wholesale customers banded together in an attempt to coerce him into reducing his prices, McDonogh relinquished the agency and decided to found his own fertiliser manufacturing business. Having initially been refused a loan from his regular bankers he secured £10,000 in 1911 from the Bank of Ireland and, having a keen interest in chemistry, founded a fertiliser and chemical manufacturing plant in 1912. In addition to this he was responsible for reopening the Galway Woollen Mills and the Galway Foundry and held several other directorships in companies that included the Galway Bay Steamship Co., the Galway Gas Co., and the Midland & Great Western Railway.
Martin McDonogh was a fervent supporter of horse racing and in 1914 purchased a stable from a German national who was keen to dispose of his asset quickly in order to avoid confiscation by the authorities. A generous supporter of the annual racing festival at Ballybrit, McDonogh sat on the race committee and in 1928 was appointed by the Irish Racecourse Executives Association to represent that organisation on the board of control of the newly established Tote. He owned several winning racehorses including Kyleclare, winner of the Galway Hurdle, and Irish Fun, winner (1934) of the Irish Cambridgeshire.
Apart from his careers in industry and racing he successfully stood (June 1927) in Galway for election to the dáil as a Cumann na nGaedhael candidate. He was reelected in September 1927 but temporarily lost his seat in February 1932. Elected for the final time in January 1933 he remained a TD until his death. He never married, and lived at Belmore, Salthill, Co. Galway, where he died 24 November 1934 aged 78. He was buried at Fonthill cemetery, Galway.