Thursday 23 November 2017

Eugene's spirit and his passion for life will stay with meTreacy Hogan remembers his former colleague Eugene Moloney

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FOREVER young Eugene Moloney had the enthusiastic mind of a 25-year-old in the body of a giant, middle-aged man.

He was among a generation of journalists who worked hard, and played even harder.

Right to the end, Eugene lived the life he loved -- filing copy for a newspaper and burning the candle at both ends while enjoying the finest of wine, women and music.

As his contemporaries donned slippers, sipped cocoa and headed for the bed, Eugene would be planning his night on the tiles.

At 55, he was still doing what he did 30 years ago, possibly the only one of his generation still possessing the heady 'back in the good old days ' enthusiasm, spirit and ability to trip the light fantastic into the early hours.

He was an old-school hack, a brilliant exponent of journalism. Armed with a leaky biro and a tattered notebook, he cut a towering 6ft 4in figure over other reporters at many doorstep huddles, or at the scene of breaking news stories.

Socially, he would often be the last man standing, as dawn broke. But he would always be at his desk fresh as a daisy for his next shift.

The generosity of this happy-go-lucky man was renowned, and his home near the city centre was an overnight refuge for many tired and emotional hacks burnt out after the pub crawl.

Eugene loved to holiday in exotic, far-flung destinations, travelling extensively in Asia and South America.

The late former Irish Independent editor Vinnie Doyle had a soft spot for Eugene, not because of his undoubted journalistic skills, but because of China. Vinnie casually mentioned to him one night in the pub that he was planning a trip to China.

The next day, Eugene provided him with all the information he needed. After that, he became the golden-haired boy.

Along with wine and song, he loved the company of beautiful women -- he had a long relationship with his Vietnamese girlfriend.

After availing of an INM redundancy package, he travelled to Hanoi, where he taught English for a time before returning to Dublin early this year.

The last time I met Eugene was in January after the funeral of 'Sunday Independent' editor Aengus Fanning.

Delicacies

Over a few pints, he told me that while in Vietnam he played football with the first Vietnamese GAA club, Hanoi-based Viet Celts.

In fact, he received a medal for being the oldest player on the team after they won the first Asia GAA games.

Eugene was an enthusiastic foodie, always arriving into the office with some new ingredient he had discovered, usually in the Asian Market.

In the early 1980s, our lunches consisted of a soggy sandwich; while Eugene had delicacies we had never heard of, such as olives and pasta salad. While he enthused over wine, we were only concerned about the quality of the Guinness in the local.

He loved smelly cheese and one night he arrived for dinner at a colleague's house armed with a big box of pungent specialities. He treated it like a gold bullion, but went home to Rathmines with the box of cheese intact -- his taste was not shared by other guests.

On another occasion, a colleague met Eugene on a train from Belfast to Dublin, in the years when bomb threats frequently disrupted services, causing lengthy delays. Undeterred by the interruption -- in fact, he was always prepared for such eventualities -- Eugene produced a baguette and cheese from one pocket of his trademark long coat and a bottle of wine from the other, and shared his goodies with those at his table.

He once brought in a takeaway meal and a bottle of brandy to a colleague in hospital in case she disliked the hospital food.

Eugene would often be carrying an umbrella when you'd meet him on the street, and he'd hail you by waving it in the air.

He was impossible to miss, wearing his big yellow mac. At music gigs, you'd easily spot him because of the coat, brolly and his resemblance to a tall Eric Cantona.

Music was a passion. In the '80s, long before iPods came into fashion, if he heard you had been to a gig, he'd make a point of bringing you in tapes of the artist. His musical interests were eclectic, from Bob Dylan to Waylon Jennings, from Rory Gallagher to the Kaiser Chiefs.

Dylan's classic song 'Forever Young' could have been about Eugene Moloney.

When the Clintons came to Belfast, he proved a very handy and enthusiastic guide for fellow journos.

Scoop

His experience with the 'Irish News' in Belfast at the height of the Troubles brought him to the attention of senior editors in the Irish Independent. He was recruited and moved to Dublin in the early 1980s.

He was frequently dispatched back up North to cover the frequent atrocities there and the annual Drumcree stand-offs.

Eugene never batted an eyelid or flinched or retreated, even in the face of potential danger.

Eugene was no saint, a fact he would be first to admit.

Many a news editor was left waiting for his copy, pulling out their hair as they roared: "Where's Moloney?" He had a Northern chippiness, and wore his heart on his sleeve.

I remember Eugene for his cheerful company, always up for a bit of craic, his stories about his adventures abroad and his many showbusiness encounters. His enthusiasm for life was obvious to all.

Ni fheicfhimid a leitheid aris.

Irish Independent

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