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Friday 28 July 2017

Vinnie Doyle

GRIEF: Gertie Doyle, centre, is helped by her daughters-in-law, Angie Doyle, left, and Marian Doyle. Photo: David ConachyCampbell Spray sees a newspaper family say goodbye to one of their own, the incomparable Vinnie Doyle

He stood at the side of the church, near the steps, striking a rather diffident pose -- but I recognised him despite a gap of around 20 years.

Around him, giving warm handshakes, were the great and the good -- and the not so good. There were also legions of current journalists, some with impressive titles and many who had, by theirs or the company's choice, left the Independent years before.

But more importantly, here were printers and compositors, feared overseers, artists, sub-editors, front office clerks, telesales girls, advertising men and women and the whole host of other people who, in the old days, made up a newspaper's soul before its offices resembled a call centre.

They came to pay tribute to one of their own, the ultimate newspaperman Vinnie Doyle, long-time editor of the Irish Independent.

As I went over to the diffident man by the steps, I whispered: "Austin". The great Austin Walsh, once big-time section editor and finally the late stone man who put the Irish Independent -- and often this paper -- to bed, frequently as dawn approached, gave me a warm welcome and let me take his arm up the steps to the Church of the Annunciation in Rathfarnham.

After telling him how well he looked, Austin smiled back: "I think often of the past, but there's not much of me left, Campbell."

But there was -- the mind of a great professional, a brilliant spirit and total dedication to the art of newspapers.

That's what it was like for Vinnie Doyle -- totally rugged professionalism, spirit and dedication. That's what we all respected and he deserved that respect.

I worked for him when I first came to the Independent 26 years ago and was promoted twice. We had the same obsession about newspapers and the people who populated them.

He probably respected a bit that I had worked abroad with titles he knew and liked. When I left to come to this paper, he may have felt a sense of betrayal. Vinnie's body language, even in the pub, spoke volumes. But I felt that every time I rolled up my sleeves and started to put a paper together, his influence guided me, as it did so many others

That's why the forgotten professionals of the industry left their sick beds and gardens and came out in force to salute one of their own who died too early. They also wanted to give their support to Gertie and his three sons.

And it was Vinnie who over the years had given support and opportunities to people -- especially from Dublin's Northside -- who wanted a break in the industry.

On Thursday, it was the newspaper family mourning one its own. Our news editor, Liam Collins, accompanied his father Willie to the service. And it was Willie that Gertie phoned with the news of Vinnie's death. For Willie had taught Vinnie the basics of his craft more than 50 years ago at the Sunday Press.

Vinnie Doyle, with the help of Austin and many like him, had put thousands of issues of the great national daily to bed over the years. His colleagues rightly came in their hundreds to lay him to rest and salute the ultimate professional.

Campbell Spray, Operations Editor of the Sunday Independent, was a sub-editor, assistant chief sub-editor and Assistant Editor on the Irish Independent in the mid-1980s

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