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A memorable meeting with a true character

I ONLY met Aengus Fanning the once. It was a very snowy day in December 2010, the sort of day when even hardened Sunday Independent photographers found an inside location for their photographs and the Dublin taxi drivers were, for once, speechless in their excuses for delayed journeys.

The reason we were meeting was that Aengus had a passion for the story of an Irishman as eccentric as he was himself -- Brendan Bracken -- and Aengus was largely responsible for the documentary I made, and that RTE was to transmit.

He had been banging on for years about Brendan Bracken -- the Irishman whose father was one of the founders of the GAA, yet became Winston Churchill's right-hand man and, with a great irony, First Lord of the British Admiralty! Aengus was delighted that I had picked up the story and run with it to show to a wider audience.

Aengus was exactly what I imagined a newspaper editor should be. A hugely knowledgeable man, with a mighty personality and enormous energy. He sat in his office, surrounded by Cuneo paintings of steam engines -- we had to find the mouse, of course -- a plaque engraved with The General by Seigfried Sassoon and a multitude of cricketing memorabilia, which as a member of the MCC, I found strangely comforting in the unlikely frozen wastes that Dublin had become that icy December. He was very much the Editor in charge.

Very busy though Aengus was, I was introduced to, and had to make a speech to, the assembled journalists in the newsroom, and his excitement at the Brendan Bracken story finally being told, for television was palpable. I hope the programme I made lived up to his expectations, and I'm sorry that the summer's planned trip to his other holy ground -- Lords -- is now, not to be. The Reader's Digest magazine that my late father used to read always had a piece, "my most unforgettable character".

I've met many people from your delightful land -- the land of my ancestors -- and Aengus's courtesy, enthusiasm, joie-de-vivre and sheer professionalism that shone through that one time I came face to face with him, certainly made him one of mine.

Adrian Bracken, producer of 'Brendan Bracken-- Churchill's Irishman'

Sunday Independent