Veteran journalist Peter Murtagh bids farewell to The Irish Times

Award-winning reporter and editor began his career with the newspaper in the 1980s

Peter Murtagh and his wife Moira and children Patrick and Natasha, with  editor of The Irish Times  Paul O’Neill in the Irish Times newsroom. Photograph: James Forde

Peter Murtagh and his wife Moira and children Patrick and Natasha, with editor of The Irish Times Paul O’Neill in the Irish Times newsroom. Photograph: James Forde

 

Peter Murtagh, veteran Irish Times reporter and editor whose career spanned Dublin and London’s Fleet Street, has brought an end to an accomplished, industrious career.

After decades in the trade, during which he broke major stories and occupied some of the most senior editorial chairs, he retired on Thursday with a short speech to colleagues and friends.

Thanking the entire staff, he reflected briefly on the “buzz” he had received from journalism – a description that secured him one of his earliest jobs – and how it had remained with him throughout his life.

In summarising his many achievements, Irish Times editor Paul O’Neill noted Mr Murtagh’s “four truly remarkable years” with the newspaper in the early 1980s when, among other things, he exposed the tapping of journalists’ phones under the government of Charles Haughey .

In his earlier years he was editor of the Trinity News college newspaper and though his professional life both began and ended at The Irish Times, the intervening years brought him to the newsrooms of London’s Fleet Street and into various senior positions.

His early success delivered him to The Sunday Times in London where he became editor of famed Insight investigative unit.

Following this he spent eight years at The Guardian, as both deputy foreign editor and news editor, before returning to Ireland in 1994 to edit the now defunct Sunday Tribune.

During his second term in The Irish Times, he would fill the roles of Saturday news features editor, foreign editor, duty editor and managing editor, before once more rolling up his sleeves for a last burst of news reporting. As something of a swansong, Mr Murtagh received a 2016 Investigative Journalism of the Year award for his series on businessman Denis O’Brien.

“There’s a certain symmetry to Peter’s career,” Mr O’Neill noted, “that he should choose to end up as a reporter again.”