Newspaper Descriptors Project

March 7, 2012 · 28 comments

in Collections,Guest Bloggers,Newspapers,Projects

Intro by Justin Furlong, NLI Newspaper Librarian

The National Library of Ireland in association with the Newspaper & Periodical History Forum of Ireland is pleased to launch its Newspaper Descriptors Project. This project hopes to provide short descriptors or pen notes for the newspaper titles listed in the National Library’s Newspaper Database. The descriptors will include such information as publication dates, proprietors & funding, editors & significant journalists, circulation figures (if known), comment on the newspaper’s political affiliation, and mention any histories written on the various titles….

To launch the project, we’re delighted to present three pieces on the Irish Press group by Ray Burke, Chief News Editor of RTÉ News

The Irish Press  (September 5, 1931-May 25, 1995)

Established by Eamon de Valera, the last surviving 1916 Rising commandant; former president of Sinn Fein and of the first Dáil; founder of Fianna Fáil and future Taoiseach and President of Ireland. Funded by tens of thousands of subscriptions from Ireland, the United States and Australia. Second biggest-selling daily in Ireland for almost 60 years, peaking at 200,000 after World War II.

The paper’s first editorial said it was “not the organ of any individual or a group or a party”. Within six months of its launch, however, Fianna Fáil had attained power and continued to be the party of government for most of the next 80 years. Two of the State’s first three Taoisigh (de Valera and Sean Lemass) and three of the first five presidents (de Valera, Erskine Childers and Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh) held senior positions on the paper.

Irish Press, 1 January 1973

Irish Press, 1 January 1973

De Valera declared that the paper’s proprietors were its shareholders and “the Irish people”. However, its articles of association, devised by de Valera, decreed that “sole and absolute” editorial and commercial control rested with the “controlling director” – successively de Valera himself, his eldest son Vivion and Vivion’s only son, Dr Eamon de Valera. At least four of the paper’s nine editors resigned abruptly, after long service, following rows with the controlling director, who also retained the title ‘Editor-in-Chief’.

In addition to the role of controlling director, de Valera – and subsequently two of his sons and his grandson – also controlled the voting shares in a US-based company, Irish Press Corporation, which effectively controlled the Irish company, Irish Press Limited. The extent of the control and of the share ownership did not become public for decades.

Irish Press, 29 April 1978

Irish Press, 29 April 1978

Despite its symbiotic links to Fianna Fail, the Irish Press was respected for its news and sports coverage. Its feature pages regularly carried articles by Brendan Behan, Benedict Kiely, Patrick Kavanagh, Edna O’Brien, Lennox Robinson, Bryan MacMahon, Patrick McGill and Nuala O’Faolain. Leading Irish language writers including Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Máirtín Ó Direáin and Breandán Ó hEithir were regular contributors. The New Irish Writing page, introduced in 1968 by literary editor David Marcus, published the first works of John Banville, Neil Jordan, Patrick McCabe, Sebastian Barry, Dermot Bolger and Frank McGuinness.

Recurring questions about the paper’s initial fundraising, particularly in the US, and about the post of controlling director, culminated in a Dáil debate in 1959 in which all parties except Fianna Fáil voted to censure de Valera for continuing to control the Irish Press while serving as Taoiseach. De Valera announced next day that he would step down as Taoiseach and seek election as President of Ireland.

Last ever edition of the Irish Press, 25 May 1995

Last ever edition of the Irish Press, 25 May 1995

De Valera’s death in 1975, two years after he had completed two terms as President, was followed by a worsening of what had been a gradual decline in the paper’s circulation. Sales continued to fall due to increased competition from indigenous and imported dailies; periodic non-publication because of industrial disputes; weak management and a failed joint-partnership with a minor US publisher, Ralph Ingersoll. In December 1994 de Valera’s grandson sold 25% of the Irish Press and its sister evening and Sunday titles to its traditional arch-rival, Independent Newspapers. Publication ceased less than six months later, on May 25th, 1995, when the journalists went on strike on the same day as Dr de Valera suffered an adverse Supreme Court ruling at the end of protracted litigation against Ralph Ingersoll.

Editors: Frank Gallagher (1931-1935); John O’Sullivan and John Herlihy successively (1935-1938); William Sweetman (1938-1951); Jim McGuinness (1951-1957); Francis Carthy (1957-1962); Joe Walsh (1962-1968); Tim Pat Coogan (1968-1987); Hugh Lambert (1987-1995)

Publications:
Burke, R. Press Delete: The Decline and Fall of The Irish Press Currach Press, 2005, Dublin
Coogan, T. P. De Valera: Long Fellow Long Shadow Hutchinson, 1993, London
Oram, H. The Newspaper Book: A History of Newspapers in Ireland, 1649-1983 M. O. Books, 1983, Dublin
O’Brien, M. De Valera, Fianna Fail and The Irish Press: The Truth in the News? Irish Academic Press, 2001, Dublin

The Evening Press  (September 1954-May 1995)

Launched on September 1, 1954, promising “as much news as possible”. Editor-in-chief Vivion de Valera instructed that it should carry “no politics” and no editorials. Founding editor was Douglas Gageby (later Editor of the Irish Times 1963-74 and 1977-86).

Evening Press, 1 September 1954

Evening Press, 1 September 1954

Detailed coverage of Dublin city and county council matters and of tenant association activities in the capital’s fast-growing suburbs helped build circulation. Strong emphasis on sports included the hiring two months after its launch of well-known Raidio Éireann GAA presenter Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin, who was also a former Dublin inter-county footballer and hurler, to write about Gaelic Games every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. By 1959, daily sales topped 100,000, eclipsing the Evening Herald and hastening the demise of the Evening Mail three years later. Its team of young news reporters included John Healy and Ted Nealon, who later became prominent journalists on the Irish Times and RTE respectively.

Home of the original and long-running Dubliner’s Diary column, written under the pseudonym Terry O’Sullivan for 25 years by Tomas O’Faolain, a former teacher and Army colleague of Vivion de Valera and father of the writer Nuala O’Faolain. Home also from 1973 to 1995 of Con Houlihan’s acclaimed back-page sports columns, which appeared between four and six times each week, and of his regular literary series Tributaries. Novelist Colum McCann, winner of the US National Book Award and the Dublin IMPAC International Literary Award for Let The Great World Spin, wrote a youth affairs column and a series of despatches from the United States in the mid to late-1980s.

From the Evening Press, 1 September 1954

From the Evening Press, 1 September 1954

In January 1983 it was the first newspaper to publish details of Charles Haughey’s near one-million pound indebtedness to Allied Irish Banks, the country’s biggest banking group. AIB, in a special statement, denied the story “positively and authoritatively” and said that it was “outlandishly inaccurate”, but a Tribunal of Inquiry established by the Oireachtas was told years later that it had been accurate.

Gradual decline during the late-1980s took circulation below 100,000 by 1989, when the Evening Herald recovered the top sales position. The decline was accelerated by discord between the Irish and American partners running Irish Press Newspapers. A re-launch as a bifurcated broadsheet in 1991 was quickly reversed, but it was a marketing and commercial disaster, cutting sales to below 75,000. They had fallen below 50,000 when the paper ceased publication in 1995.

Editors: Douglas Gageby (1954-1959); Conor O’Brien (1959-1968); Sean Ward (1968-1992); Dick O’Riordan (1992-1995)

Publications:
Healy, J. Healy, Reporter The House of Healy, 1991, Achill
O’Toole, M. More Kicks than Pence: A Life in Irish Journalism Poolbeg, 1992, Dublin

The Sunday Press  (September 1949-1995)

Launched on the first Sunday of September, 1949, it promised to pursue “the nationalist tradition … embodied forever in the Proclamation of Easter Week”. Its first editor was Matt Feehan, a member of the Fianna Fáil national executive and a former Lt Col in the Irish Army.

Sunday Press, 4 September 1949

Sunday Press, 4 September 1949

Quickly established itself as the top-selling Irish Sunday newspaper, in part through serialisation of nationalist memoirs, notably Four Glorious Years, an account of the War of Independence; Raids and Rallies, the IRA exploits of Ernie O’Malley; and Allegiance, the autobiography of Robert Brennan, an IRA and Sinn Féin leader who became a confidant of Eamon de Valera and first general manager of the Irish Press before being appointed Secretary of the Irish Legation in Washington DC (effectively Irish Ambassador to the US). These serialisations prompted the TD Noel Browne to accuse the Sunday Press in the Dáil of “glorifying the gun”.

From the Sunday Press, 4 September 1949

From the Sunday Press, 4 September 1949

Circulation reached 380,000 within six years and topped 400,000 by the mid-1960s. It peaked at 442,817 in 1972. Sales dropped below 400,000 following de Valera’s death in 1975 and continued to fall each year thereafter, although the masthead was still able to proclaim “Over 1 million readers each week” until the mid-1980s. By the end of the decade, it had been overtaken in sales by the rival Sunday Independent for the first time since its launch. Sales fell below 200,000 in the early-1990s and had dropped below 150,000 when publication ceased in 1995.

Its last two political correspondents were Geraldine Kennedy, who resigned in 1987 to win a Dail seat for the Progressive Democrats party and who later became editor of the Irish Times; and Stephen Collins, who subsequently became political editor of the Irish Times.

Editors: Lt Col Matt Feehan (1948-1961); Francis Carthy (1961-1967); Vincent Jennings (1967-1986); Michael Keane (1986-1995)

Publications:
Burke, R. Press Delete: The Decline and Fall of The Irish Press Currach Press, 2005, Dublin
Coogan, T. P. De Valera: Long Fellow Long Shadow Hutchinson, 1993, London
Healy, J. Healy, Reporter The House of Healy, 1991, Achill
Oram, H. The Newspaper Book: A History of Newspapers in Ireland, 1649-1983 M. O. Books, 1983, Dublin
O’Brien, M. De Valera, Fianna Fail and The Irish Press: The Truth in the News? Irish Academic Press, 2001, Dublin
O’Toole, M. More Kicks than Pence: A Life in Irish Journalism Poolbeg, 1992, Dublin

Leave a Comment

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Emmet Lonergan February 22, 2014 at 3:45 am

Hi, just wondering would it be possible to view the evening press from 22 april (easter sunday ) 1962? My grandfather had an article about him and his singing family , can you get back to me as soon as possible , regards Emmet

Reply

John November 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Hi,
Would it be possible to view Evening Press copies for December 1983, my area of interest is sports and if I recall this was the Tuesday or wednesday editions
Regards
John

Reply

Bean an Phoist November 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Hi John, and yes of course it’s possible. We have a full run of the Evening Press on microfilm, so you can come in and have a look any time.

These are our opening hours here: http://www.nli.ie/en/opening-hours.aspx You’ll be visiting our Main Reading Room on Kildare Street, next door to The Dáil/Leinster House, and here’s how to order the December 1983 microfilm of the Evening Press http://www.nli.ie/en/accessing-printed-material.aspx

Best regards
Bean an Phoist

Reply

Evelyn McGrath November 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

Dear Bean an phoist,
A photograph of my husband appeared in either the Irish press or independent in a sinking rowing boat. I would like to get a copy of the photo for him. It was in August 1984 I think. Is it possible to check the papers, I live in tipperary but would come to Dublin , just wanted to be prepared before I travel. Thank you Evelyn mc grath

Reply

Bean an Phoist November 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Hello Evelyn

You’d be more than welcome to visit any time! You can search in the Irish Press and Independent on microfilm or online (we’ve a glitch at the moment with the online service but hope to have it rectified soon). The Irish Independent is on open access, so you can help yourself when you come. You can order the Irish Press for August 1984 in advance of your visit, so that the microfilm you need is ready for you when you arrive.

Alternatively, get in touch with our Reprographics Department and they can organise a copy for you.

These are our opening hours: http://www.nli.ie/en/opening-hours.aspx You’ll be visiting our Main Reading Room.

Here’s the online order form: http://www.nli.ie/en/online-order-form.aspx

And if you want to contact Reprographics: http://www.nli.ie/en/copying-services.aspx

Best of luck with your search!
Bean an Phoist

Reply

Mrs Patricia Ainsworth September 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm

We had a picture of our wedding on Friday 10 August 1973 in the Evening Press.

I wondered if I could have a copy of it? My name was Patricia Walsh and my husband’s name is Terry Ainsworth. I was the one with the 7 good looking brothers!

Look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Patricia Ainsworth

Reply

Bean an Phoist September 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

Hello Patricia

You just need to contact our Copying Service with the details, and they’ll be able to help you. Everything you need should be here: http://www.nli.ie/en/reprographic-services.aspx

Thanks
Carol

Reply

Helen Delaney June 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Hello
There was a piece written about my husband in the Dublin city edition of wither the Evening Press or the Evening Herald in Oct or Nov 1973. Do you have these papers and would it be possible for me to search through them. If so, I presume I have to pre-book the newspapers and also book a time slot?
Please let me know.
Many thanks
Helen Delaney

Reply

Bean an Phoist June 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Hello Helen (and apologies for slow reply)

Yes, you’ll be able to search through the Evening Press and Evening Herald on microfilm until you find the piece you’re looking for.

Opening hours are here: http://www.nli.ie/en/opening-hours.aspx You’re looking for the Main Reading Room when you come in (building beside Leinster House/the Dáil on Kildare Street).

You could order October and November 1973 of both newspapers to be retrieved for you in advance of your visit. That way there’ll be microfilms waiting for you when you get here.
Advance ordering: http://www.nli.ie/en/online-order-form.aspx

Hope that helps
Carol

Reply

Liam Hourston April 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm

04 04 2013
Hi there.
My name is Liam Hourston and I am looking for a issue of the Sunday Press that featured a photograph of my mother holding a baby in her hands following a bomb blast in Belfast. I do not have a date for the particular issue, only that it appeared sometime between 1970 and 1975. It is possible it appeared on the cover but more likely it was on the interior. Would it be possible to visit the library and search for it please? I am not even sure if she was named in the article or in a caption under the picture but her name would be Anne Hourston (nee Gough)

Thanks in advance
Liam

Reply

Bean an Phoist April 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Hi Liam

Absolutely possible for you to visit. You’ll be able to search through the Sunday Press on microfilm until you find the photo.

Opening hours are here: http://www.nli.ie/en/opening-hours.aspx You’re looking for the Main Reading Room when you come in (building beside Leinster House/the Dáil on Kildare Street).

You could order a couple of months of the Sunday Press to be retrieved for you in advance of your visit, maybe January-June 1970? That way there’ll be microfilms waiting for you when you get here.
Advance ordering: http://www.nli.ie/en/online-order-form.aspx

If possible, maybe try to find a more accurate date for the bombing before you get here, as 5 years is a wide search time. If you narrow that date down a bit, it’ll save you a lot more time.

Hope this helps
Carol

Reply

Liam Hourston April 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm

04 04 2012
Hi Carol, thanks for the reply. I will of course order in advance. Tell me, I have never done this sort of search before using microfilm so how many papers would there be per film or roll? Can I order as I go? I mean, if I order January -June 1970 before I go can I then order July – December 1970 once I am there and so on thru the day? It’s only the Sunday Press I would need. For want of a better way to say it, are the Sunday editions segregated from the daily editions? I’m trying to gauge if I can view all the Sunday Editions in a day.

Thanks for your great help and all advise will be greatly appreciated.

Liam

Reply

Bean an Phoist April 5, 2013 at 8:41 am

Hi Liam

Yes, the Sunday Press is segregated. You should easily be able to get through that 5 year period in a day, as it’s a photograph that you’re looking for, and they’re always easier to find. But again, I would suggest trying to narrow down the date.
What you could do is order some in advance (and who knows you might get lucky) but you could search the Irish Times and Irish Independent online when you get here, and that might make it easier for you to know when the explosion happened…

I’m trying to remember how many editions would be on a reel of the Sunday Press, and as it’s just 4 papers per month, you could probably order at least a year at a time…

All the best
Carol

Reply

John March 27, 2013 at 1:35 pm

currently researching family tree and am looking for an article/ photograph in a copy of “Sunday Press” of Oct 02 1966 – relating to my fathers retirement as a Cork Harbour river pilot – any help to secure access and getting copy of this publication would be very much appreciated

Reply

Bean an Phoist March 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Hello John. You can get onto our Reprographics Dept. about that and they should be able to help you. Email them at copy-orders@nli.ie or phone Dublin 603 0214 giving them all the details that you have. Information on prices, etc. is here: http://www.nli.ie/en/reprographic-services.aspx

You may not hear back until after this Easter weekend, but they will look after you… Carol

Reply

John April 3, 2013 at 8:16 am

Good morning Carol ,
apologies for delay in acknowledging your reply -information is much appreciated ,
THKS
John

Reply

Bean an Phoist April 3, 2013 at 8:25 am

No problem at all, John. You’re very welcome.

Reply

deirdre williams March 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm

hi l am looking for a copy of the front page of the evening press for febuary 24th 1981. It ran a column on the engagement of lady di to prince charles
many thanks

Reply

Bean an Phoist March 11, 2013 at 9:17 am

Hello Dee. If you email our reprographic service, copy-orders@nli.ie, they should be able to help you…

Reply

eoin o neill February 20, 2013 at 3:23 am

My great grand parents appeared on the front page of the irish press on may 12 1937 was wondering where i could get a copy

Reply

Bean an Phoist February 20, 2013 at 8:41 am

Hi Eoin. That’s no problem at all. You’ll find all the information you need about ordering a copy of that front page here, whether you’d like a print or a digital version and prices: http://www.nli.ie/en/reprographic-services.aspx

Reply

Anthony Flood July 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Hi there,

Wondering if you could help me out, I was the subject of the front page of the Evening Press in late January 1973 and am currently seeking a copy of this as my daughter is compiling a family tree.

Could you advise where I would be able to retrieve this from? A friend reccomended I contact you first.

Ideally I am seeking a copy of the full front page.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards,

Anthony.

Reply

Bean an Phoist July 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Hello there Anthony. You can email copy-orders@nli.ie and they should be able to help you get a copy of the front page you’re looking for…

Reply

Alan June 16, 2012 at 3:27 am

Is it still possible to view archives of THE EVENING NEWS editions from 1961?

Reply

Justin Furlong June 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

Hi Alan,

We don’t have a title matching those dates. Perhaps you mean the Evening Press, which is available to consult in the Library on microfilm.

Justin Furlong
Newspaper Librarian

Reply

Patrick Hawe March 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm

An excellent innovation enhancing the newspaper collection for all consultants.

Reply

Justin Furlong March 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Thanks Patrick.

Justin

Reply

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