Wednesday 17 January 2018

Tony was a man of formidable talents

Tony O'Reilly Appreciation by former Deputy Editor, Jim McCullen.

The sudden death of former Drogheda Independent Managing Director Tony O'Reilly has closed yet another chapter in the history of the Irish regional newspaper industry.

His untimely passing, at the relatively young age of 67, is particularly poignant as he died only a few months after his retirement from Independent Newspapers, for whom he had worked for 50 years.

Tony cemented his Drogheda Independent legacy with two notable milestones: his part in the introduction of new technology, or photo composition, in 1980 and the production of the paper's widely acclaimed centenary supplement four years later.

A man of formidable talents, he was especially adept in the field of layout and design, skills he executed with flair and imagination.

He also compiled the original wordmaze competition.

Along with the then Managing Director Jim McGuire, he faced a supremely difficult task during the recessionary early 80's as the DroghedaIndependent battled a decline in advertising and circulation revenues.

Tony was appointed Managing Director of the Drogheda Independent after Jim McGuire's five-year term ended in 1984, but obstacles still ahead as the economy During those troubled times, and when redundancies became an inevitable fact of life, Tony set about negotiating with the print unions, which he did without rancour and always with a sense of fairness and justice.

And again in the past couple of years, when the Drogheda Independent faced further job cuts, it was Tony O'Reilly, this time as Independent Newspapers Deputy Group Director of Human Resources, who sought to achieve the best deal and entitlement for the affected workers.

Tony never forgot his years in Drogheda, and despite frail health, always made the effort to attend the funerals of Drogheda Independent colleagues, including those in recent times of Breeda Craig, Tommy Harding, and Charlie Hurley.

At his funeral service in Bray, Declan Carlyle, Managing Director and Group Human Resources Director, Independent Newspapers, described Tony as 'a decent human being', 'discreet' and having 'a brilliant mind'. Tony O'Reilly was certainly all that - and more.

He was also a kind, modest man, quietly spoken who will be remembered with respect and gratitude by all who had the honour of knowing him.

May he rest in peace. lay faltered.

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