‘Irish Times’ journalist Seán Flynn dies, aged 56

Education Editor died at home after illness

 Seán Flynn: “exceptional reporter, correspondent and editor”.  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Seán Flynn: “exceptional reporter, correspondent and editor”. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times


The untimely death has occurred of Seán Flynn, the long-serving Education Editor of The Irish Times. He died at home earlier today after a long illness.

Flynn (56) was an accomplished and influential journalist with decades of experience in a wide range of areas. He had worked with The Irish Times as a staff journalist since 1985 and previously with the Irish Press group.

He served as Security Correspondent and as European Correspondent he was based in Brussels for six years. He led reportage for The Irish Times in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

It is within the education sphere where he had his most recent impact, serving since 1999 as Education Editor.

He was an informed and recognised commentator on all matters related to education at higher, secondary and primary level, and was well respected by all involved in education in Ireland.

This expertise made him a regular contributor to radio and television broadcasts. For years he took part in the Leaving Cert examination coverage broadcast on RTÉ Radio One.

He attended primary and secondary school in north Dublin and completed a BA in English and History at University College Dublin. He also completed a HDip in 1981, an experience that would have informed his later skills as Education Editor.

During his time as Security Correspondent he was co-author with Pádraig Yeates of the 1985 bestseller Smack - The Criminal Drugs Racket in Ireland - an expose of crime in Ireland.

Mr Flynn’s death “has been a cause for great sadness among his many friends and colleagues in The Irish Times; those he worked with in the Irish education sector and within the world of Irish media”, Irish Times Editor Kevin O’Sullivan said today.

“He was an exceptional reporter, correspondent and editor who will also leave a lasting legacy in an archive of original and distinguished journalism generated over almost three decades”, he said.

“Seán had an undiminished interest in media, notably newspapers. He loved to engage in debate at any time on how best to bring content that mattered to readers. That extended into areas of tremendous interest to him such as sports, commentary, and culture.”

O’Sullivan on behalf of The Irish Times, extended his deep sympathy to Seán’s wife Elaine, and their children; Stephen, Jack, David, Julianne, and Luke.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said Flynn was always good company and ever the gentleman and said he had learned from his inspired articles and education coverage in the Irish Times.

He described Flynn as an “incisive journalist with a gift for finding a good story”.

“He was clearly passionate about education and unafraid to give his opinions, no matter who may have been offended.”

Flynn’s death “is a loss both for Irish journalism and for higher education” said Dr Maurice Manning, Chancellor of the National University of Ireland.

He played a valuable role “in contributing to public understanding of the transformative effect of university education on the individual and on society as a whole and also in providing a necessary and healthy critique of the sector”, Dr Manning said.

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