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Seamus McConville

As editor he moulded 'The Kerryman' into one of the best regional titles in the country, by Majella O'Sullivan

A PERFECT match of man and ethos was how former editor of The Kerryman, Seamus McConville was remembered this week.

Mr McConville, who was 79, passed away at the Bon Secours Hospital, Tralee, on Sunday, following a long illness.

He was at the helm of The Kerryman from 1974 until his retirement in 1988 but continued as a contributor right up until shortly before his death.

He penned his last My Town, an ever-popular feature of the Tralee edition of the paper, before Christmas.

Mr McConville's career with The Kerryman began in 1957 when he joined the paper as deputy editor on a three-month trial basis.

His career in The Kerryman spanned five decades and he helped mould it into one of the best regional newspapers in the country.

He was also a valued mentor to countless journalists who worked under him.

Former managing director of the paper, Dan Nolan, who offered him the job, could not have known just how his new deputy would take to the job and to his adopted county.

Born in Navan, Co Meath, in 1932, Mr McConville's early life was typical of the son of a garda superintendent and the family moved around a lot as his father William's postings demanded.

However, it was in Mohill, Co Leitrim, that he spent the formative childhood years and he received his secondary education in Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath.

Very early on in his career he came to the Franciscans in Killarney, where he flirted with the idea of joining the priesthood. This was not meant to be and he veered in another direction, becoming a cub reporter with The Meath Chronicle, where he cut his teeth in journalism, before moving onto the Irish News Agency in Dublin.

When he arrived in Tralee he met his future wife Dolores. The couple married in 1960 and went on to raise a family of four, Denise, Sean, Fiona and Marissa.

Throughout his career, Seamus worked on all the major stories in the southwest both in his role as reporter for The Kerryman and as RTE correspondent, including the murder of Moss Moore in north Kerry that inspired John B Keane to write The Field.

He also had great courage as demonstrated when, despite receiving a death threat from the IRA, he ignored a demand not to publish an article by Con Houlihan.

Apart from his role as editor of the local paper, he got deeply involved in matters affecting Tralee and Co Kerry.

He was a driving force in the early years of the Rose of Tralee festival and was also fundamental in the foundation of Siamsa Tire, the national folk theatre.

He was also a member of the Lions Club, St Joseph's Young Priests' Society and the more informal 'Cornerboys', a group of friends who regularly gathered in the Abbeygate to discuss the affairs of the nation.

Following his funeral mass on Tuesday, a guard of honour made up of past and present staff of The Kerryman led the cortege through the centre of Tralee.

He was laid to rest in New Rath Cemetery in the town.

Sunday Independent