After 29 years the Offaly Express put its final edition to bed yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, June 19). The last commemorative edition is a lookback at an eventful history.
News Editor, Alan Walsh sums up his thoughts.
The maiden edition in June 1984 featured Brian Cowen’s by-election triumph on the front page and over the past 29 years The Offaly Express has proudly reported on every facet of life in the ‘Faithful County’.
Cowen’s rise through the Fianna Fail ranks and ultimately to the office of An Taoiseach in 2008 was my personal news highlight – it was special to be on the plinth outside Dáil Eireann to witness the euphoria.
And in sport, Offaly’s rollercoaster adventure to backdoor All-Ireland hurling glory in 1998 was the sweetest thing. They were heady days. And I was privileged to be there.
It is an honour to be journalist on such occasions and I’ve been associated with The Offaly Express since 1992. It was thanks to the late Eddie Rogers that I as a fresh faced college student was commissioned to submit reports on local GAA clashes.
And I’ve the distinction of covering every Offaly senior hurling final, including replays, since ’92 and it pains me that I won’t have the opportunity to extend that sequence to a 21st consecutive final – at least not with The Offaly Express.
When I joined the Express team in the Summer of ’93, Teddy Fennelly was Leinster Express editor and I worked alongside Eddie, Kevin Farrell and Declan McSweeney. Marc Lynch, Siobhan Conway, Emer Egan and Charlie Quinn also worked in the Tullamore office at that time.
I was fortunate to work with exceptional people like Eddie, Kevin, Declan, Paul Rouse, Kevin Corrigan and John Whelan, now Senator, the only person to be appointed Editor of The Offaly Express, a role he held for a few years prior to his elevation to Leinster and Offaly Editor.
Kilkenny man Brian Keyes was my sports editor for many years. I loved rubbing it in about ’98 but sadly he’s enjoyed the upper hand in the slagging stakes ever since.
And as we produce the final edition I’ve been honoured to work alongside Damian Moran, Vivienne Clarke and Grace O’Dea. Special mention too must go to Christy Donegan worked as page designer with us in Tullamore for a number of years, and was sorely missed after his role was made redundant.
Emer, who arrived in ’93, is still here and her advertising colleagues are Karen O’Connor, Alison Casey and Eveleen Cleary.
We never had a staff photographer, instead relying on freelancers. To Ger Rogers and Jeff Harvey, their contribution has been enormous. It would also be remiss of me not to mention the likes of the late Paddy Cotter, Alf Harvey, Kevin Byrne, Richard May, Joe O’Sullivan, Pat Cleary and Jim Yorke who were prolific and contributors to the Express.
I derived immense pride from the fact we were an award winning newspaper – scooping awards in 1997, 1998 and 2010 for our coverage of Community Games, GAA and Camogie, respectively.
As we sign off on the final edition of The Offaly Express, I’d just like to say ‘thank you’ to all our readers, contributors and advertisers.
The chapter on a proud story in our lives has concluded and it is now time to focus on new beginnings and the next chapter.