On May 22, 1972, I stepped into the then Cork Examiner for a career that lasted 42 years. I can still remember the feeling as I walked into the Reading Room for the first time. Well, it wasn’t exactly the first time.
Two years previously I landed myself a summer job as a copyholder, the role I returned to in 1970. I was in love with newspapers then – as I am now – and the Cork Examiner and Evening Echo were bought and read in our family from Monday to Saturday. We had a collection of newspapers from the time of JFK’s assassination in 1963, plus I had compiled a scrapbook with newspaper cuttings of the Moon landing.
I had one other connection with the Echo. In the mid-1960s I worked as an assistant to a guy who did newspaper deliveries to homes along Barrack Street, Bandon Road, parts of the Lough Road, and some adjoining areas. we would drop them in letterboxes in about 90 minutes of brisk walking and I was paid the princely sum of £1. If I helped collect the money on Saturday mornings then I’d get a few bob for myself and maybe even a couple of pennies in tips from housewives.
I read the Examiner and Echo every day and marvelled at what was going on in the world outside, never realising that one day I would work in newspapers. TV news was limited back in those days and there was only one station to view anyway, so newspapers were our window into the world.
In the summer of 1970 I had just finished 5th Year. I was due to sit my Leaving Cert in 1971 and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Working for the summer in the Examiner seemed like a super idea and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to experience newspaper life.
The Reading Room was a stepping stone for other careers in the Commercial area and other glamorous areas like reporting or editing. Unfortunately, I was at the back of a line of 10, among them Tom Aherne, Brendan O’Neill, Joe O’Donovan and Bob Lester, and Eddie Lyons, and time seemed to move very slowly in terms of vacancies. As others moved on I soon found others like Dan Buckley and Jack Power filled the places behind me. However, I would have to wait four years to ‘escape’ to the Examiner Editorial.
Today also marks another anniversary. On this day in 1965 I made my Confirmation. There are reasons why that day sticks in my mind. For example, while others were formally confirmed, myself and another boy sat in our seats. The reason I was left out was because I had been given the Last Rites following my accident back in 1956.
Instead, later that day I made my way up to the South Presentation convent and knocked on the door. Bishop Lucey came out and blessed me and then allowed me to kiss his ring. Quite why I had to go through that was a mystery to me. Strange day.
Still, I was able to collect lots of money like my classmates. Not a bad compensation!