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Obituary: Harry McCandless, journalism stalwart who began as a printer

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Veteran: Harry McCandless
Veteran: Harry McCandless

The death has taken place of Henry Fredrick McCandless.

Harry, as he was known, of Mourneview Park, Dromore, Co Down, passed away on November 18. He was 92.

Born on September 29, 1927, at Ballaney, now known as Gowdystown Road near Dromore, Harry was the fifth son of William and Mary McCandless.

Harry married on October 27, 1950 to Josephine Wilkinson of Gallows Street, Dromore, and had two sons and a daughter - Peter, Maynard and Amanda (Knox).

On leaving Tullymacarette School in 1941 he entered the printing and newspaper business with The Leader in Dromore.

Although he served an apprenticeship in the printing trade, he showed a marked tendency towards journalism and in 1946, at the invitation of the management, he entered the Dromore Weekly Times as a cub reporter.

However, after just over a year working on the paper he decided to branch out on his own in the printing business. In July 1947 he founded the firm of McCandless Print in premises at Commercial Road in Banbridge.

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With newspapers still in his blood he started a monthly paper, The Banbridge Review, which was launched as a weekly in June 1950. The paper ran until 1962, when it became no longer financially viable.

The paper gave the title to the firm The Review Press, which continued as a commercial printing enterprise.

Harry then worked for a friend in the north of England for a subsidiary publishing company, which was part of the Daily Post and Echo, before returning to Northern Ireland to take up a post with the Portadown News.

In 1963 he was appointed manager and deputy editor of the former Lisburn Herald.

Five years later he branched out as a freelance journalist and built up a network of connections, which established him as an accredited correspondent of regional and national newspapers across the UK, as well as the Dublin dailies.

He was also a correspondent with the Press Association.

He provided news coverage for the broadcasting media and throughout the Seventies and Eighties was a familiar voice on Downtown Radio's news programmes.

His biggest scoop was in 1983 and involved the much-publicised IRA prisoners' escape from the Maze Prison.

From 1981 until 1985 he worked on a freelance basis as editor of The Leader when the paper was owned by the Hawthorne family. Later, for several years, he worked on stories for the Morton Group.

He was a member of the Mid-Ulster branch of the National Union of Journalists and a former chairman of the Northern Ireland Press Correspondents Association.

Outside his work he was involved in community activities.

He was a founder member of the Dromore Chamber of Commerce and co-founder of the town's horse fair committee.

Harry was also a founder and former chairman of the Dromore In Bloom committee. And he helped organise the Dromore civic weeks in the 1970s.

In 1996 he was honoured by Banbridge District Council for "outstanding service to the community".

He was a keen gardener.

Harry was a member of First Dromore Presbyterian Church and for several years in the 1950s was a tenor singer with Banbridge Choral Society.

Having been brought up close to the Great Northern Railway line, he became something of a railway buff and was particularly interested in steam locomotives.

He was a former member of the Railway Preservation Society and also had a keen interest in aviation, especially warplanes.

Harry is survived by his wife Josephine (Jo), sons Peter and Maynard, daughter Amanda, son-in-law David, grandchildren Joanne, Andrew, Stuart and Karen, and great-grandchildren Dylan and Sadie.

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