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As an arts lover, my first task was to write about... cricket

Walt Whitman's words came to mind -- 'O Captain! my Captain!' -- as management sombrely informed our newsroom on Tuesday of the death of Aengus Fanning.



The Sunday Independent is perceived as a colossus among Irish newspapers (thanks to Aengus's visionary, energetic stewardship) but we're a small ship and our captain is gone.

I was 24 when I met him first. His inaugural commission for an arts-loving young mother? A piece on cricket.

Down quarter of a century working for him, it's the personal moments that stand out. Aengus joining the jazz band at my wedding -- wherever he went, the clarinet wasn't far behind.

His memorable letter when I faced my own dark night of the soul -- "I firmly believe that it is not what happens to us in life, but how we deal with it" -- a mantra I cleaved to. And one he demonstrated as he courageously guided his stunned staff through the harrowing weeks that followed Veronica Guerin's murder.

In the oft surreal world that characterised this newspaper, it was very strange a few years later to sit directly behind my boss at the world premiere of Veronica and watch Emmet Bergin play him -- (and he was Aengus to the life).

Books sometimes aren't very high in the pecking order of a newspaper, but he was always hugely supportive around all initiatives from the books department and, indeed, was a founding father of the Irish Book Awards.

He was a passionate, voracious reader and it was a privilege to supply him with a steady stream of history, politics and sport, especially during his illness.

Recently one of our contributors, Charles Lysaght, told me that during a hospital visit, Aengus had suggested a book for review. On Tuesday morning Charles's review arrived on my screen. As my final task for my editor of the last 25 years, with affection, respect and gratitude, I've run it on this week's book page. It's the story of a bright, brave all-rounder who loved politics and cricket.

To his adored Anne and his beloved boys, our love and sympathy goes. Adieu Aengus -- rest peacefully now.

Sunday Independent