Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Ireland’s Saturday Night to close after 114 years

The last edition of ISN will be printed on July 26

Ireland's Saturday Night, one of the world's oldest sports newspapers, is to cease publication.

The final edition of ISN will roll off the Belfast Telegraph presses on July 26, after 114 years of bringing reports, scores and analysis to hundreds of thousands of sports fans throughout Northern Ireland and beyond.

Falling circulation and the impact of the current world-wide credit crunch forced Independent News and Media (NI), owners of the Belfast Telegraph, to close the title.

Telegraph Editor Martin Lindsay said last night: "The ISN was part of the very fabric of this province in its heyday but, unfortunately, over a period of years readership dropped to the point where publication of the title could not be sustained.

"I know this will come as a severe blow to the dwindling number of people who read the ISN but the current economic climate is such that it proved impossible to continue printing it.

"At the height of its popularity in the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties, the ISN was an instant source of information on a wide variety of sports which took place throughout Northern Ireland every Saturday. In recent years, however, sports enthusiasts, armed with the latest digital technology, found new and faster means of getting this information and the ISN readership suffered as a result."

The ISN was launched by the Baird brothers — William and George, former owners of the Belfast Telegraph — on November 17, 1894, and soon built up a reputation for being the sports bible of Ireland.

Initially, it was called Ulster Saturday Night, but two years after it hit the streets and because of its runaway success, this was changed to Ireland's Saturday Night — with an edition for the north and another for the south.

Down the years, stalwart readers of Ireland's Saturday Night re-christened the title — calling it the Pink, the ISN, the Ulster, and the Ireland. Back in 1894, it consisted of four pages, and was printed on pink paper to distinguish it from the main daily, then known as the Belfast Evening Telegraph.

The ISN survived two World Wars and its staff — journalists, printers and van drivers — battled through riots, gun battles and bombs of the seventies and eighties to get a paper onto the streets, every Saturday night, even when the Telegraph's presses were destroyed by an IRA bomb. During this turbulent time, two of its drivers were murdered and countless others had their vehicles hijacked.

The final edition of the ISN will contain a special pull-out section, tracing the history of the paper from the early days in 1894 to the present.

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