'Irish Catholic' newspaper sold to editor for undisclosed sum


THE IRISH Farmers Journal has sold the Irish Catholic newspaper in a management buy-out of the Catholic weekly.

The Irish Catholic’s editor Garry O’Sullivan has bought the title for an undisclosed sum. It is understood a number of investors, including US investors, have also backed the title, although Mr O’Sullivan is the sole shareholder.

The Irish Farmers Journal bought the Irish Catholic, which was then privately owned, in 2007. The weekly newspaper, founded in 1888, sells about 22,000 copies each week. Among its former editors is columnist David Quinn.

It is understood the Irish Farmers Journal received a number of formal expressions of interest for the title, from international as well as Irish buyers, which were whittled down to two bids.

Matt Dempsey, editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, said a decision to sell the title had been made as it was “not a particularly core part of the business”.

He said the Irish Catholic had been “moderately profitable” for the Journal, and the sale of the title was “not material within the overall business”.

The Irish Farmers Journal is run by the Agricultural Trust Ltd.

The Irish Catholic, which was based at the Irish Farmers Journals headquarters in Bluebell in west Dublin will now be headquartered at St Mary’s, Bloomfield Avenue in Donnybrook.

The seven-strong staff will remain with the newspaper, Mr O’Sullivan, who has edited the title for six years, said yesterday. The aim of the newspaper was to provide “a forum for discussion and debate for Catholics”, he said.

“There has never been a more interesting time to be a Catholic in Ireland,” he said, noting the newspaper plans to increase its presence on social media.

He said the title continued to have a strong readership despite a 4 per cent decline in annual figures, reflecting the general slowdown in the newspaper industry, he said.

Latest figures show the Irish Farmers Journal, which also owns the Irish Field, increased its circulation by 2.33 per cent in the second half of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010.

Its circulation now stands at about 72,046 copies per week, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, up from about 67,000 five years earlier.

Earlier this year the Irish Farmers Journal launched a 100-page glossy magazine, Irish Country Magazine, aimed at women.