Remembering John Armstrong
Sir, – The recent obituary (May 26th) pays a worthy tribute to former Irish Times news editor, John Armstrong. He was indeed truly a renaissance man.
My connection with John started in the late 1960s and early 1970s when I was involved with the New Writers Press, a small Dublin-based poetry publisher. It was very difficult in those days to get poetry publications placed in book shops. It was also difficult to get poetry book reviewed in Irish national newspapers.
I wrote to John Armstrong at the Irish Times. We arranged to meet and I explained to him what our small poetry press was aiming to achieve. He subsequently wrote a generous article about our work which was printed in the Irish Times. Over the following few years he wrote about our publication in your paper. John’s good-will towards our publication was a big help initially to get our books displayed in book shops and reviewed in the newspapers.
New Writers Press went on to publish books of poetry by Paul Durcan, Michael Hartnett, Brian Lynch, Michael Smith, Trevor Joyce, Macdara Woods, Gerard Smyth and many more young poets. All of these are now well established Irish poets.
New Writers Press will also be always grateful to another friend in those not too-cultured times, another of your late colleagues, Séamus Kelly (Quidnunc).
My sincere sympathy to John’s family. – Yours, etc,