Writer and former ‘Irish Times’ journalist Fergus Linehan dies aged 82

Former arts editor also wrote many musicals, plays and adaptations for theatre


The death has occurred of the Dublin writer and former Irish Times journalist Fergus Linehan. Mr Linehan, who was 82, wrote many musicals, plays and adaptations which were produced over the course of more than four decades at theatres including the Abbey, the Gate and the Gaiety in Dublin.

He also wrote a string of successful revues for his wife, Rosaleen Linehan, to perform with her comedy partner Des Keogh.

In the 1970s he co-wrote RTÉ’s satirical radio show Get An Earful Of This, with Frank Sheeran.

Mr Linehan was a journalist with The Irish Times from 1960 until 1999, serving as film critic, TV critic and arts editor. In the latter role he was responsible for the newspaper’s arts coverage through most of the 1970s and 1980s.

In the 1990s, he published two novels which drew on his own childhood memories of life in Dublin and in colonial Malaya, where he was born.

The Abbey Theatre in Dublin said it was “with great sadness that we learned of the death of playwright and friend Fergus Linehan today. A tribute will be paid from the stage of the Abbey Theatre after tonight’s show.”

The editor of The Irish Times, Kevin O’Sullivan, said Mr Linehan gave a lifetime’s service to the paper, joining in his mid-20s and staying until he retired at the age of 65. “He was a remarkable all-rounder, in that he was a high-profile writer as film and television critic, an imaginative commissioning editor when he was running arts coverage for many years and he never lost his skills as a sub-editor and production journalist.

“Above all, he brought deep knowledge and authority to the paper’s coverage of the arts, all delivered quietly and generously. He was a much-missed colleague when he retired and the sympathy of all who knew him in The Irish Times goes out to his family.”

Conor Brady, who was editor of The Irish Times from 1986 to 2002, said: “Fergus was a sharp, insightful and sensitive arts editor over many years when the arts in Ireland were going through an extraordinary flowering. He was never impressed by pretentiousness or mediocrity but he was always encouraging of new or emerging talent. He was always gentle, if firm; courteous and good humoured. He was a wonderful colleague and a brilliant commentator”.

He is survived by his wife Rosaleen, children Evanna, Hugh, Fergus and Conor and by his nine grandchildren.