Sunday 25 February 2018

Paul Muldowney

Solid rock reporter whose chiselled good looks hid a shy soul, writes Ray Managh

Swansong: Paul Muldowney on the day he retired from the Supreme and High Courts reporting team in 2005. Photo: Collins
Swansong: Paul Muldowney on the day he retired from the Supreme and High Courts reporting team in 2005. Photo: Collins

Ray Managh

Paul Muldowney, who died just short of his 79th birthday, was a former news editor in the Irish Press and one of the top reporters ever to have graced any newsroom.

Following the closure of the Irish Press group, he worked for years in the High Court as a freelance and supplied reports to Independent Newspapers. He was a true gentleman.

Standing at 6ft 2in, dark, handsome and chiselled in the celluloid form of film stars, he was often teased by his older colleagues as being the Gregory Peck, and later by the younger ones, as the Richard Gere of the profession. But that's where any association with fiction ended. Paul Muldowney was solid rock when it came to the sourcing, writing and presentation of the proverbial fairness and accuracy of the news.

Paul was born in Co Donegal on June 29, 1938 but spent most of his young life in Co Carlow where his father, James, worked in the sugar factory and where he was educated at the Christian Brothers College before joining the local newspaper, the Carlow Nationalist.

Inevitably his competence and flair would guide him towards the national media and in the early 1960s he joined the Irish Press as a reporter during which time he covered and, later as a news desk man, contributed to practically all of the major news stories of the era.

Like all of his colleagues in the Irish Press group he was devastated at the closure but fortunately when it happened Paul had been working as a reporter for the group in the High Court.

Like many fellow Irish Press journalists, although some never worked in the profession again, Paul was one of those quickly snapped up by other national media including as a freelance for the Irish Independent and Evening Herald, and continued as a group freelance reporter attached to the Supreme and High Courts reporting team until his retirement in 2005, when he went to live with his beloved Bernadette in her hometown of Sligo, where he died in the loving care of Bernie and his son, John Paul (PJ), and his daughter, Ann Marie.

Paul was somewhat of a shy man which Bernie, formerly Noone, and then a radiographer in St Luke's Hospital, recalled while reminiscing about when they first met "so long ago" at a party in Moyne Road, Ranelagh, Dublin, with a bunch of the Press gang.

"He ignored me for half the night before eventually asking me to dance," she recalls. "We were married less than three years later in the Church of the Three Patrons, Rathgar, and set up our first home in Palmerstown Road, Dun Laoghaire, before finally settling in Blackrock, Dublin."

One of Bernie's special memories is dancing with Paul at Le Bal de Petits Lits Blancs, a banquet and ball in Powerscourt House, Enniskerry and rubbing shoulders with Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier in whose honour the charity function was organised. Paul had been covering the visit.

Only in April last, Paul bought Bernie another ring to mark their 50 years of married life together in what was a blissful and rock solid relationship.

He was a keen golfer and a member of Strandhill Golf Club in Sligo as well as the Press Radio and Television and the Dublin Journalists Golfing Societies. He played rugby as a young man, maintaining a lifelong interest which he passed on to PJ, who won an under-16s medal with Leinster. Many of his former colleagues have paid tribute. Columnist and broadcaster Brenda Power said: "It's so sad, he was the most gorgeous man, a real hero and champion to all of us freelancers in the Irish Press."

Mary Carolan, Irish Times courts correspondent, recalled how cherished Paul was in the Four Courts. "When he retired a light went out in the Press room and the entire building has seemed a lot less brighter since," she said.

Paul Muldowney, who died on June 12, is survived by his wife Bernie, son PJ, daughter Ann Marie, and brother Gerard in Donegal and sister Kit in Dublin.

Sunday Independent

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