IRISH literary circles were in shock yesterday following the unexpected death of Caroline Walsh, the literary editor of 'The Irish Times', at the age of 59.
The Dublin native, who was a daughter of the noted short story writer Mary Lavin, had been literary editor at the newspaper since 1999.
She is survived by her husband, novelist James Ryan, and two children -- a son and a daughter.
'Irish Times' editor Kevin O'Sullivan paid tribute to her yesterday, describing her as a pioneering journalist who had played a central role in the development of the newspaper for more than 35 years.
"Caroline's work, whether as a writer on women's issues in the early 1980s, as features editor, or as literary editor, was notable for its intelligence, its vigour, and above all, its sense of purpose," he said.
"She had a passionate commitment to outstanding journalism and good writing," he added.
Her book, 'The Homes of Irish Writers', was published by Anvil Press in 1980.
She later edited three collections of Irish short stories.
Tributes were last night paid to Ms Walsh by leading Irish writers.
Her predecessor as 'Irish Times' literary editor, the Booker-winning novelist John Banville, said yesterday: "It is hard to believe that Caroline is gone; she was so much alive. She was one of the great literary editors, dedicated to the job and to the appreciation and nurture of good books, but she was wise enough not to take herself as seriously, that is as solemnly, as her position might have allowed. She was sharp, funny, always an enthusiast, and, not least, a good friend. I miss her."
Author Anne Enright said: "I am devastated to hear of the loss of Caroline Walsh, who was such a benign presence in the world of Irish literature; utterly without malice, she was a passionate believer in the power and importance of books. I can't imagine Dublin without her."
An emotional tribute was also paid by bestselling author Colm Toibin: "Caroline Walsh was a figure of warmth, intelligence and generosity. She was a journalist of real integrity, someone who believed in the power of the written word. She adored her family and her friends, and did her work with painstaking care. She was a great figure in Dublin and it is unbelievable that she has gone."