It was the questions he asked.
Whatever the topic, or the story, Aengus Fanning would ask questions which were different from anyone else’s.
That made then difficult to answer, and easy to dismiss as eccentric.
But they were difficult to answer because they required some original thinking, and they nearly always got to the heart of the matter.
They were nearly always questions readers wanted answered, even if they had not thought of the question.
Aengus despised what the American economist J K Galbraith christened “conventional wisdom,” and Oscar Wilde dismissed as approval of what is approved of.
The financial pages of the Sunday Independent were unconventional, and often met with disapproval.
Aengus had that other gift which all great editors require; to deal with objections, both external and internal, accommodate them where necessary - and somehow end up getting his own way.
He carried his learning and unparalleled knowledge of what was going on lightly, behind a façade of sardonic, usually hilarious, humour.
It was a privilege to be there when he got serious, and one saw that well-stocked mind and fertile imagination in full flow.
Brendan Keenan is an economics columnist with the Sunday Independent