Friday 20 April 2018

Closure of paper broke Con Houlihan’s heart, says partner

Ciaran Byrne

THE late Con Houlihan was left ‘broken-hearted’ when the Irish Press Group collapsed in 1995, over 20 years after the writer had joined the ‘Evening Press’.

Speaking for the first time about his death last August, Con’s partner of 35 years Harriet Duffin says the Press was his life - and he struggled to fill the void after it went under.

Six months after he died, she is still struggling to come to terms with his passing, she tells Vincent Hogan in Part Two of  ‘Con Houlihan’s Ireland’, a free 32-page magazine inside tomorrow’s Irish Independent.

 “I can’t tell you how much I miss him. I went to Canada for Christmas and, since I came back, I’m like a lost soul.  It’s horrible,” she says.

Harriet first met Con in 1977 as he forged a reputation as Ireland’s leading sports writer. She says Con’s world collapsed with the closure of the Irish Press.

“It broke his heart,” Harriet recalls.  “He loved the place to bits.  They knew the writing was on the wall for about 18 months and it was breaking his heart, knowing that it was going to happen.”

The 1970s was a turbulent decade and Harriet says Con abhorred the campaign of violence in the North. “He did absolutely hate the attitude of the Provos, behaving as if they had some kind of mandate,” she says. 

“He believed they didn’t.  He was outraged that they felt entitled to go and kill people.  Yet, we’d be sitting in a pub and pints would be sent over from well-known Republicans.”

In Part Two of ‘Con Houlihan’s Ireland’, you can also read recollections of the Kerry writer by family friend Billy Keane and enjoy an interview with Con’s former sports editor Tom O’Shea.

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