Journalists pay tribute to veteran former Sunday World columnist Paddy Murray
Paddy wrote his final column for Sunday World, in May 2019, entitled: ‘If you read me over the years, thanks. If I annoyed you, sorry. If I ever made you laugh, good'
Tributes have been paid to the veteran former Sunday World columnist Paddy Murray, who has passed away at age 68.
Paddy died on Thursday morning at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, following a long battle with illness.
In 1998, he was diagnosed with Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a rare type of cancer, and also had Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD), a subject on which he wrote many columns.
Brian Farrell, Editor of Sunday World, said: "Paddy helped to shape the lives and careers of so many over the years - including my own - and for that we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
"Anyone lucky enough to have spent time in Paddy's company would understand how fiercely loyal, compassionate and fun-loving he truly was.
"But, most importantly, he was a brilliant journalist who was always conscious of giving his audience a laugh, yet was never afraid to ask the difficult questions of those in power.
"His loss will leave a huge hole in all our lives and our thoughts and prayers are with Connie and Charlotte at this difficult time."
Harry McGee, Political Correspondent with the Irish Times, tweeted: “A sad day for all colleagues who knew Paddy, a journalist to his core, who bore his illness with great courage and humour.”
Róisín Ingle shared a piece in the Irish Times written by Damian Cullen, Health & Family Editor, that begins: “Paddy Murray had a remarkable life. A journalist for nearly 50 years, he worked for many newspapers such as the Evening Herald, Irish Daily Star & Sunday World. He was also editor of the Sunday Tribune from 2003 until 2005.”
Paddy wrote his final column for Sunday World, in May 2019, entitled: ‘If you read me over the years, thanks. If I annoyed you, sorry. If I ever made you laugh, good.’
In the piece he recalled how it was 16,734 days since he first walked into Independent Newspapers.
“It was my first day at work,” he wrote. “I had just left the College of Commerce in Rathmines after completing a course in journalism.
“I walked into the newsroom that day sure of only one thing: I knew nothing. Now, I’ve reached the last day. And I look back at those almost 46 years with wonder, nostalgia and sadness that they’re all behind me."
As a young cub reporter Paddy told how not once was he turned away when he nervously knocked on the doors of families who had been hit by tragedy only hours earlier.
“In fact, on every occasion I was welcomed and treated with kindness and I think my colleagues would say the same,” he revealed.
“I eventually realised that people generally liked to tell a stranger about the person they had just lost.
"Indeed, on one occasion I was sent in the early morning to the family home of a 16-year-old boy who, it had been reported in some morning papers, had been stabbed to death in a gang fight. Two floors up in a city centre block of flats. I knocked on the door nervously.
"It opened and a man leaned out and said: 'What do you want?' 'Paddy Murray from the Evening Herald'," I said.
“'Thank God you’ve come'," he said, ushering me in. 'My son was in no gang'.”
"They told me their story and I wrote it proud, at that time, of the profession I was in."
In March 2021 Paddy recalled some of his greatest scoops in the book, ‘And Finally - A Journalist’s Life In 250 Stories’.
One of the most memorable was his encounter with the legendry screen actor John Wayne who was tucking into his breakfast in Dublin’s Gresham hotel when he was approached by a wide-eyed cub reporter.
“Announcing his name as Paddy Murray and telling one of the world’s most famous actors that he was a journalist with the Evening Herald, he expected to be met with a gruff retort from The Duke,” Sunday World journalist Eugene Masterson wrote about the story in the book.
“But Paddy was taken aback by Wayne’s welcoming smile and invitation.
“'Sit down young fellar and have breakfast with me',” beamed the larger-than-life American.
This was the stuff of dreams for Paddy, who had been sent to the hotel on a whim by his editor after gossip on the street signalled that The Quiet Man actor was spotted in the grand old dame of O’Connell Street.
Wayne asked a shell-shocked Paddy several questions and “it became clear that it was he who was interviewing me,” Paddy recalls.
But Paddy, who had gone to journalism college as a last resort on the advice of his mother, had learned the tricks of the trade and managed to root out why the Oscar winner was in town on that summer’s day in 1974.
Murray’s encounter with the screen idol was just one of many brushes with famous people he has had down through the years.
Others included Elton John, Pele, Madonna, Luke Kelly, Ronnie Drew, Eric Cantona, George Harrison, Michael Schumacher, Joe Elliot, Shane MacGowan, Terry Wogan, Brendan Grace, Eddie Irvine, Spike Milligan, Packie Bonner, Gerry Ryan, Eric Clapton and Joe Dolan, among others.
Paddy was born in Dublin in 1958 to proud parents Maureen, from Roscommon, and dad Tom, from Tipperary, who was chairman and CEO of the ESB.
He attended rugby playing schools such as Blackrock College and Willow Park, and went to UCD where he studied Commerce and hung out with Dermot Morgan, who he would share a path with in pursuing comedy writing careers.
After going to London in his late teens to work in several bars, Paddy was persuaded by his mum to do the famed journalism course in DIT Rathmines and in 1973 he landed his first job in the Irish Independent as a junior reporter.
He would also later work for the Evening Herald and The Star. Paddy would eventually rise to become editor of the Sunday Tribune and was also an award-winning columnist with the Sunday World.
Paddy is survived by his devoted wife Connie, former sports editor of The Star, and daughter Charlotte.
Paddy previously revealed the remarkable story of how their adorable teenage daughter Charlotte came into this world despite all their hurdles.
“I have lived much of my life with the two most beautiful people who ever graced this planet,” he proudly proclaimed.
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