Life of former 'Irish Times' editor celebrated

Douglas Gageby helped ensure "we ended up with the peaceful and generally pluralist country we live in today", said The Irish…

Douglas Gageby helped ensure "we ended up with the peaceful and generally pluralist country we live in today", said The Irish Times Editor, Geraldine Kennedy, about the newspaper's recently deceased former editor yesterday. She was speaking in the RDS at a celebration of the lives of Mr Gageby and his wife Dorothy, who died in 2002.

"He engaged Ireland in a conversation with herself and, to adapt a phrase from political history, Ireland won," she continued.

Other speakers at the celebration included the former SDLP leader, Mr John Hume, the former taoiseach, Dr Garret FitzGerald, former journalist with The Irish Times Ms Mary Maher, two of the Gagebys' grandchildren, Mr Daniel Berman and Ms Rebecca Gageby, with singing by Ms Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, accompanied on the piano by Mr David Adams. Caroline Walsh, Literary Editor of The Irish Times, introduced the speakers.

Members of the Gageby family present included Mrs Justice Susan Denham and her husband, Dr Brian Denham, Ms Sally Berman and her husband Mr Philip Berman, Mr John Gageby and his wife Ms Maria Gageby, Mr Patrick Gageby SC and his wife Ms Amanda Bell, Ms Patricia Kilroy, sister of Mrs Dorothy Gageby, and many of the Gagebys' grandchildren.


Among the large attendance were the President's ADC, Comdt Lester Costello, the Taoiseach's ADC, Comdt Mícheál Murray, and the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Ronan Keane.

Mr John Hume described Douglas Gageby as "one of the greatest and most positive and influential Irishmen in this century we have just left". He continued that "undoubtedly Douglas helped prepare the intellectual ground that eventually led to the ceasefires, the talks and the Good Friday agreement".

He was "above all a believer in the unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter - a unity only possible on the basis of mutual respect and agreement. We have started on that journey. When our institutions are in place the healing process will begin.

"We will work in our common interests for socio-economic development, spilling sweat, not blood, building a new Ireland based on agreement and respect." He noted that the only book he had written, Personal Views, had an introduction by Douglas Gageby.

Mr Daniel Berman told how, as children, they loved visiting their grandparents, and read from Cities and Thrones and Powers by Rudyard Kipling. Ms Mary Maher recalled how Douglas Gageby "turned that little Protestant newspaper into an indispensable force for change", while "Dorothy was a woman of such serenity and humour". She read from Mr Gageby's In Time's Eye column from April 16th, 1996.

Ms Rebecca Gageby said her grandmother was "intelligent, elegant, with a unique ability to put people at ease", and was frequently described as "a lady". She spoke of Mrs Gageby's work with the Samaritans, which "she kept to herself". Her grandfather had always spoken to his grandchildren as adults. "Children like that," she said, and read They are thine O Lord, a prayer said at her grandfather's funeral.

Dr FitzGerald described Douglas Gageby as an outstanding member of a remarkable group of contemporaries "whom I have always thought of as refounders of our State". Born in the aftermath of 1916, they included Paddy Lynch, Alexis FitzGerald, Ken Whitaker, and Douglas Gageby. They laid "the foundations for the self-confident Ireland of the 21st century".

Members of The Irish Times Trust present included the chairman, Dr David McConnell, Prof Dervilla Donnelly, Mr Gerry Burns, Mr Noel Dorr, Ms Judy Woodworth, Dr Ruth Barrington, and a former trust member, Mr Donal Nevin.

The Irish Times board was represented by the managing director, Ms Maeve Donovan, Mr Michael Austen, Mr Liam Kavanagh and Mr Alex Burns. Former board members present included Mr Pat O'Hara, Mr Jim Cooke and Mr Derek McCullagh. Mr Timothy Mahon represented former Irish Times chairman and chief executive, Major T.B. McDowell.

Among Mr Gageby's close friends present were Col E.D. Doyle, Mr Gerry Mulvey, and the Rev Terence McCaughey. Also there were Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Mr Justice John Murray, Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan, Mr Justice Brian McCracken and Mr Justice Dermot Kinlen.

Mr Frank Cullen represented the National Newspapers of Ireland, Mr Seamus Dooley and Mr Gerry Curran represented the National Union of Journalists.

Mr Michael Keane, former editor of the Sunday Press, was there, as was Mr Seán Ward, former editor of the Evening Press, the former film censor Mr Sheamus Smith, the former Director of News at RTÉ, Mr Wesley Boyd, and Seán Mac Réamoinn, Rodney Rice and John Bowman, also of RTÉ.

Mr Gus Smith and Mr Gerry Flynn of the Irish Independent were present, along with Mr Matt Dempsey of the Farmers' Journal, Mr Vincent Browne, Mr John Cooney, Mr John McMenamin SC, Mr Austin Currie, Mr Ted Nealon and Mr Dick Burke. Others present included Comdt Ned Keyes, Ms Phil Bates and Mr Anthony Jordan of the Dublin Samaritans, as well as numerous former and current journalists at The Irish Times. The celebration was organised by Mr Seán Hogan.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times