‘Empathetic’ Brian Hutton was part of ‘fabric of journalism’, funeral hears

The 46-year-old, an Irish Times contributor, died suddenly on New Year’s Eve

The journalist Brian Hutton “touched the lives of many people”, mourners at his funeral were told on Friday.

The 46-year-old Derry man died suddenly on New Year’s Eve after becoming unwell.

Mr Hutton was a “person who showed empathy” and people “trusted him”, Fr Michael McCaughey said, adding that his reporting skills and coverage of major stories made him “part of the fabric of journalism”.

“Friendship and the gift of people were also important to Brian,” he said.


The congregation heard of Mr Hutton’s “great love” for his seven-year-old daughter, Issy.

Prior to his requiem mass on Friday, she placed seashells from Lisfannon in Co Donegal on the altar in St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn in Derry, in memory of her father’s love of nature.

“It is important we think not of what Brian Hutton could or may do, but that we acknowledge his achievements and the admiration in which he was held through his work and the friendships he has created,” Fr McCaughey said.

Mr Hutton was deputy news editor of the Press Association (PA) news agency for more than a decade and based in its Dublin office until 2017.

He wrote extensively for The Irish Times as a contributor and freelance journalist over the past five years.

In November he returned to Creeslough in Co Donegal a month after an explosion claimed the lives of 10 people and described the heartache of residents struggling to cope in the aftermath of the tragedy.

He also reported on the Saville Inquiry and in recent weeks covered the State papers and the 50th anniversary of Ireland’s access to the European Union.

“They say he touched the lives of many people. Obviously, there is his great love for his young daughter,” the parish priest said.

“He was also very much a community person. Part of a local newsletter he helped produce and distribute is on the altar. Again there is that sense of community and bringing people together.”

Educated at St Columb’s College in Derry, Mr Hutton was a “true Derry man”.

“For Brian, Derry was the centre of the universe … but he also had a full appreciation of Donegal and its beauty,” Fr McCaughey added.

“Outdoor pursuits; music; playing the guitar; his sense of humour; his warm, hearty laugh were all part of his qualities. And, of course, his great respect and appreciation in the world of journalism.

“He had, as someone said, a great nose for a story … so many events and tragedies in recent times, he had his hand on them, he did so effortlessly, even-handedly, no drama, with an extensive network of contacts.

“Brian was someone who was able to carry the facts with a story, one with a great intellect who was highly regarded for his skill in reporting but also his sensitive journalism.

“He was part of the fabric of journalism with that great skill.”

Former Foyle MP Mark Durkan, current SDLP MLA Mark Durkan and former Irish ambassador Jim Sharkey joined the reporter’s family, friends and colleagues at the large funeral.

Many journalists from across Irish media attended the service, including Irish Times news editor Mark Hennessy, the newspaper’s Northern editor Freya McClements and Irish Times deputy picture editor Laura Hutton, who was Mr Hutton’s cousin.

PA’s former and current editors, Deric Henderson and David Young, were also present along with former colleagues from the Belfast Telegraph, where Mr Hutton began his career. RTÉ business journalist Richard Curran and Derry-based Irish News reporter Seamus McKinney also attended.

In a moving tribute, Mr Hutton’s brother, Kevin, said he was “devoted” to his family and friends, and that his loyalty was “without measure”.

“Above all else” was his devotion to his daughter, his “shining star”, mourners heard.

“He loved spending time sharing interests, creating memories with his beautiful daughter,” Mr Hutton added.

“Many of the characteristics that made him a great influence on our lives also made him a great journalist. He was warm, he had emotional intelligence, wit, and he just loved life and he loved people.

“To honour his memory, his optimism and his curiosity, let’s live our lives with his devotion, his passion and his laughter.”

Mr Hutton is survived by his daughter Issy, her mother Aideen McLoughlin, parents Damian and Eileen, brothers Kevin and Sean, sister Mairéad and partner Emer Cosgrove.

Following his funeral, he was laid to rest at a burial service at St Mura’s Cemetery in Fahan, Co Donegal.

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham is Northern Correspondent of The Irish Times