The times we lived in
Pen ultimate Published November 19th, 1987. Photograph by Jack McManus
Sponsors being particularly keen on their name getting right into the middle of things – and journalists being particularly irreverent about it – this award used to be known in the trade, fondly, as “The Cross Woman Journalist of the Year”.
Needless to say the Irish women who were, over the years, honoured by the journalism prizes sponsored by a prestigious American pen manufacturer were never cross at all. Or, at least, only when stymied in the pursuit of their profession.
These 1987 award-winners look delighted with their slightly unwieldy trophies, designed to celebrate the clear superiority of the pen over the sword in media matters. A quarter of a century is, of course, a long time in journalism (a week, most journalists will tell you, is a long time in journalism) and in these days of digital media, fewer and fewer practitioners are to be found wielding posh pens. Or any pens.
But what a group this turned out to be. Many readers will already have recognised a young Nuala O’Faolain, seated at front left and wearing an angelic smock top and a beatific smile.
She went on to become a star, not just in this particular writing parish, but in the wider world of fiction and memoir. Standing just behind her is a thoughtful Brenda Fitzsimons, now one of this newspaper’s most accomplished – and still thoughtful – photographers.
Next to Brenda are Maureen O’Brien, who received the award on behalf of her daughter Mary, and the vice-president of AT Cross’s European manufacturing division, Peter McCarthy. On the far right, exuding energy and neatness, is Aileen O’Meara; beside her, in the check shirt, is Ann Mooney; seated facing Nuala is Mary Glennon.
These three names will also be ringing bells. Ann Mooney writes for the Irish Sun. After many years as a producer with RTÉ, Aileen O’Meara set up her own media production company, doing everything from pop-up podcasting to TV documentaries. Mary Glennon went into local politics and served as mayor of Kildare in 2007. Pens, it turned out, were only the start of it.
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