Journalist Donal Musgrave (78) dies after long illness

Lengthy career saw him cover many major stories for Examiner, Irish Press and Irish Times

Journalist Donal Musgrave has died in Cork following a long illness.

A former chief leader writer and news editor at the Examiner newspaper, and previously Munster Correspondent for The Irish Times, he had also worked for Sunday Tribune and the Irish Press newspaper in Dublin and London.

From Newcastle West, Co Limerick, he attended Blackrock College in Dublin, Coláiste na Rinne in Waterford and later Maynooth College.

In the early 1960s, he began his career as a journalist, in London, with a series of articles on the homeless for the Catholic Herald and, following retirement, continued to write obituaries for The Irish Times and leaders for the Examiner.

Among his major reporting assignments in the 1960s were Synods of Bishops in Rome, the 1966 Aberfan coal tip disaster in Wales,the Biafran war in Nigeria, the civil rights marches and subsequent Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Other major stories covered by Musgrave included the 1973 Claudia gun running in Co Waterford, the first Irish trade mission to China in 1978, and the 1979 Betelgeuse explosion at Whiddy Island. He also reported on the 1985 Air India disaster off the Cork coast.


In 2017, and after “54 years of journalism, typing rapidly with just two fingers,” as he put in an article for this newspaper, he began to notice a tremor in his hands.

“To say that it was sudden is not entirely true because I first became aware about a year and a half ago of what my GP subsequently diagnosed as a ‘benign essential tremor’,” he said.

"To be honest, the shock really hit me when I had to give up a lifetime hobby of tying salmon flies for fear of impaling myself on the sharp hooks as my tremor became more pronounced," he said. A keen angler all his life, he fished the Lee and on the Owenmore river at Bangor Erris in Co Mayo over many decades.

His found that his own “once neat handwriting is no longer legible.” To continue his journalism he began to use speech-recognition software.

President Michael D. Higgins paid tribute to Musgrave whose "work spanned a range of titles that make up the history of Irish journalism". He was "recognised as a mentor to many in journalism, he will be remembered for a professionalism that included a kindness and a deep concern for the issues on which he reported”.

Musgrave, who was 78, is survived by his wife Shirley, daughter Katie, son Darragh, son-in-law Paul Galligan, daughter-in-law Emer Maher, and five grand children.