Newspaper editor and columnist with a great sense of fun

Paul Drury: July 24th, 1957 - March 8th, 2015

Journalist Paul Drury, who has died aged 57, appeared to be destined to edit Ireland's largest daily newspaper. But when his mentor, Irish Independent editor Vincent Doyle, retired in 2005, the shining star among the young guard who had worked under him was gone.

In preparation for the top job, Drury had been editing the Evening Herald, the Independent's sister title, and earlier the Daily Star. But one morning in 1999 he received a summons to the executive office on the top floor of Independent House. Soon afterwards he left the building, never to return. He did not speak of what had transpired.

Editorship of the Evening Herald passed to Gerry O'Regan, and it was he who was chosen to replace Doyle.

Drury had been close to Doyle, so close that colleagues called him “The Minder”, a reference to Dennis Waterman’s eponymous role in a British TV series guarding the back of a likeable villain. While Drury had picked up much of the newsman’s craft from his streetwise mentor, he had greater range and depth and more was expected of him.


New title

Soon after leaving the


, Drury joined

Ireland on Sunday

, a struggling new title which had just been bought by Associated Newspapers, owners of the

Daily Mail

. Associated renamed this acquisition the


Mail on Sunday

. In 2006, he was the launch editor for the new

Irish Daily Mail

, which had the


’s high circulation figures in its sights. In 2008 he became managing editor of Associated Newspapers Ireland.

He gave up his management roles in 2011 to concentrate on writing a weekly column for the Irish Daily Mail and broadcasting, including editing the RTÉ Radio 1 satirical comedy show Callan's Kicks. Businessman Denis O'Brien won a €150,000 libel case against Drury's Mail column for suggesting that O'Brien's relief effort in Haiti had been used to deflect attention from his difficulties with the Moriarty tribunal. Drury was a member of the Press Council of Ireland from 2011.

Doctor’s son

Paul Drury was born in Dublin, the second son of Con Drury, a medical doctor specialising in psychiatry who had been a friend of

Ludwig Wittgenstein

, and Eileen Herbert, a Yorkshire woman who became matron of St Patrick’s hospital in Dublin. They lived at the associated St Edmondsbury hospital in Lucan, where Con Drury was medical superintendent.

Paul Drury and his elder brother Luke attended Wesley College in Dublin. In fifth year he developed what was to be a lifelong passion for the Irish language, and for a while he was known as Pól Mac Andraoi. He then studied journalism at what became the Dublin Institute of Technology, where his contemporaries included broadcaster Joe O'Brien. A spell editing the Irish language newspaper Amárach followed.

Drury was bright and restless, and he was talent-spotted by Independent Newspapers. He covered agriculture and European affairs and – to the amusement of those who knew him – became a motoring correspondent. "I wouldn't trust Paul with a screwdriver" was the family verdict. When Vincent Doyle became Irish Independent editor in 1981, Drury became one of his inner circle, charged with seeing that Doyle's way ruled and no other.

He could be fun too, seeing clearly the absurdity that underlies much newsgathering, and he took pains to encourage young people, knowing that those who make mistakes are trying.

Throat cancer struck two years ago. For a while, he seemed to have beaten it, but it came back for him. A newsman to the end, in hospital for his final illness, he asked his family to drive him to Dún Laoghaire. He wanted to visit the Lexicon, the controversial new library overlooking the harbour. He also wanted to see Gorse Hill in Killiney.

And of course, no visit to Dún Laoghaire was complete without an ice cream from Teddy’s on the seafront. Back in hospital, Paul Drury died that night. He is survived by his widow, Áine Ní Fhéinne, children Éanna, Niamh and Oisín, and his brother Luke.