The rise and fall of the ‘Irish Press’


1919-1921: Over $5.1 million (or $68 million in today's money) is raised in a bond drive in the US to support the fledgling Irish state.

1927: Éamon de Valera arranges to have several million dollars worth of bonds signed over to him to set up the Irish Press.

September 5th 1931: the first edition of the Irish Press is published. It grows in popularity and reputation. A number of leading newspaper figures come through its ranks including Douglas Gageby, Tim Pat Coogan, Vincent Browne, Con Houlihan and Geraldine Kennedy.

1988: The daily paper moves from broadsheet to tabloid format. As financial problems worsen, US businessman Ralph Ingersoll advances close to £10 million in share capital and loans to the Irish press newspapers but the partnership turns sour and ends up in litigation.


1991: Evening Press is relaunched as a two-section broadsheet but after spending £250,000 on the change the paper reverts to one section.

1994: Sunday Press circulation falls to 154,000 from 303,000 in 1983. Irish press circulation fell from 91,000 to 38,900 in the same period, and the Evening Press 172,800 to 52,600.

December 22nd 1994: Irish Press plc turns to help from its publishing rival, Independent Newspapers, which buy a 24.9 per cent stake in the titles. In a later report, the Competition Authority says this investment was an abuse of the Independent's dominant market position.

May 24th 1995: Irish Press business editor Colm Rapple writes at article in The Irish Times, advocating that the Irish Press shareholding be restructured to revitalise the paper.

May 25th: Rapple is dismissed by the company which cites disloyalty on the journalist's part. Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) call a mandatory meeting, which runs into the night stopping production of the paper.

On the same day, the Supreme Court sets aside a High Court order which directed Ingersoll to pay £6 million in damages to Irish Press Newspapers (IPN). Instead of being owed money by Ingersoll, the Irish Press is ordered to repay the US publisher £4 million in loans.

May 26th: The newsstands open without an edition of the Irish Press. Management shut down the presses and order the journalists to leave but they begin a four-day sit in.

May 28th: Journalists publish the first edition of a dispute newspaper the 'X Press', which raises money for workers' families.

June 26th: Irish press journalists are successful in having an examiner appointed to IPN in the High Court. It is the first petition of its kind under the Companies Acts.

August 22nd: The examinership is lifted after a group of Irish-American investors pull out of talks.

August 23rd: Final edition of the 'X Press' is published after Irish Press management threatened to sue the journalists over the use of the eagle logo in the mast head.

September 8th: Liquidator is finally appointed to Irish Press Newspapers. Chief executive Vincent Jennings and editor-in-chief Dr Eamon de Valera say they plan to relaunch the titles once new investors are found.

May 1996: Colm Rapple wins his case for unfair dismissal at the Employment Appeals Tribunal. It rules he be reinstated.

November 1997: Eamon de Valera and Vincent Jennings survive a bid by minority shareholders to have the company wound up. The shareholders meeting hears Dr de Valera is earning £75,000 a year, with minimum expenses and a company car, while Mr Jennings gets £5,000 a year as a director.

October 2002: The Irish Press group receives a settlement of €7.6 million, or €6.8 million after costs, from investment bankers EM Warburg Pincus which had been sued over their role in the Ingersoll deal.

Today: Irish Press plc continues to run a small number of media and communication enterprises with Dr de Valera as chairman and chief executive.

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column