Offaly Express closes on a sad note
The piper plays a lament as the Offaly Express closes - © Private
5 July 2012
In typical newspaper fashion, a late breaking story delayed the final edition of the Offaly Express.
As News Editor Alan Walsh struggled to rejig a paper, piper Pat Nolan, in the regalia of the St Columcille Pipe Band, prepared to play a lament that gained a poignant significance.
Word came through that journalist Kevin Farrell had lost his battle against cancer just an hour before the Johnston Press owned title was put to bed.
Kevin, a former branch and chapel officer in the Irish Midlands, worked for many years with the Offaly Express and with the parent title the Leinster Express. His journalism played a major role in the development of the paper.
He had also acted as a stringer for the Sunday World and subsequently joined the Irish Daily Star, where he earned a reputation as a hard working tabloid journalist with unrivalled contacts and a great instinct for a story.
Kevin was forced to retire from journalism on health grounds but never lost his passion for news.
Along the bridge, NUJ members mingled with community representatives and local politicians including the opposition spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen TD and Labour senator John Whelan, former Editor of the Offaly Express.
Farrell left the Express after a turbulent dispute with editorial management, but differences were set aside as NUJ members recalled a generous and kind colleague who made his mark on regional and national journalism.
There was strong support from rival media organisations in the region, led by the editors of the other two local papers and senior management of Midlands Radio 3.
There too were correspondents and advertisers who expressed genuine sadness at the loss of a local institution.
As the lights were turned off there was a heavy downpour to match the grim mood.
On cue, Mirror journalist Nolan played, fittingly, a Scottish lament as staff left the building to applause from the rain soaked band of well wishers and friends.
An informal reception was hosted by the NUJ where we marked the contribution of the Offaly Express to the community.