Belfast Telegraph

Reporter Paddy Reynolds who penned colourful memoir of a lost age passes away

Veteran: Paddy Reynolds
Veteran: Paddy Reynolds
Alf McCreary

By Alf McCreary

Paddy Reynolds, who was a former northern editor of the Dublin-based Irish Press newspaper, has died peacefully at his home in north Belfast.

He was a well-known character who filed regularly from Belfast for the Irish Press and also worked for the Daily Mail covering many of the major stories in the early days of the Troubles.

In a 2004 memoir titled The Late Paddy Murphy: Memoirs Of An Irish Journalist, he recounted some of the more colourful aspects of his career after five decades in journalism.

He was brought up in the Cregagh area of Belfast and he had vivid recollections of the city during the Second World War, as well as memories of Dublin and the Republic, which was beginning to recover from the austere years of De Valera's leadership.

Reynolds belonged to the generation of reporters that found conviviality through their news gathering, not only in their offices or homes but also in some of the well-known hostelries in Belfast and elsewhere.

He recounts in his memoir the dangers of succumbing to alcoholism, imbibing strong drink from the start of, and throughout, each working day.

He also recounted how his wife Enda helped to save his life by sending him for a medical examination and then to a treatment centre for his alcoholism.

In one portion of his memoir he writes about a Paddy Murphy who allegedly worked from Northern Ireland for the Irish Press Group in the 1960s.

His Dublin bosses were so impressed that they called him down to appoint him to a staff job.

Apparently this "Paddy Murphy" was a nom de plume for Reynolds himself who had been writing Murphy's copy to supplement his salary - the pay cheques for the Murphy character being cashed by a friendly bookmaker.

It was no coincidence that the fictitious Paddy Murphy suddenly died of a heart attack, to protect his inventor Reynolds who then had difficulty in preventing his Dublin editor from travelling north for the "funeral". The story sounds surreal, but in those distant days of journalism, anything might have been possible.

In a review of the book, Irish Times journalist Gerry Moriarty wrote: "It is a cracking read, teeming with wit, great yarns and a finally sobering awareness of how his drinking was a form of slow suicide. Reynolds tells his stories with a craftsman's pitch: funny when appropriate, serious when dealing with the horrors of the Troubles, light yet quietly profound and self-aware when dealing with how alcohol almost killed him."

No doubt some of Paddy Reynolds' stories gained in the telling, but his memoirs gave a picture of a world of colourful print journalism that has long disappeared.

Mr Reynolds died peacefully at his home in north Belfast on December 28 "surrounded by his loving family".

He was predeceased by his wife Enda, and survived by daughters Anne, Pauline, Joanie and Colette. His Requiem Mass will take place tomorrow at 10am in the St Therese of Lisieux Church, Somerton Road, Belfast, followed by interment at Carnmoney Cemetery.

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