herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

1938-2010: Memories of a legend

This week marked the passing of Vinnie Doyle, a Herald editor and Dubliner, who spoke for a generation of Irish

Vinnie Doyle came to the Herald and his first editor's chair with a burst of enthusiasm and energy for the big story which was to be the hallmark of a long and distinguished career in journalism.

The late 70s was a time of change in the newspaper industry and he was full of big ideas for changing the layout of the paper.

He was also heavily involved in marketing and promotional opportunities to increase circulation at a time of great social and political upheaval on both sides of the border.

The North was a war zone, the political face of the Republic was undergoing change and housing, drugs and crime were becoming increasingly big issues on the social landscape. It was the time of big news stories and Vinnie fought hard for more pages. He won, and the Herald increased in size and readership was on the up.

It was during one of his re-launches of the Herald that Vinnie showed his single- mindedness to the job in hand. Interrupted from his maps and new designs in his office with news of a major news in fire story in Dun Laoghaire, he growled down the phone that he didn't give a damn if the whole bloody town burned to the ground. "I'm trying to save the Herald," he roared.

But ever the newsman he was up at the newsdesk in time to change the front page for the final edition.

Rewards

Never one to suffer fools gladly, Vinnie believed in good rewards for work well done. Getting the inside story on Budget tax changes before the rest of the press pack was a big annual challenge.

To Vinnie's great delight, deputy news editor John MacHale got the vital secret information several years in succession. A well-placed TD was persuaded to pass the vital details in a secret note while both used the urinals in the Dail bar.

There were drinks all round in the Oval bar afterwards and a generous expense docket changed hands for work well done.

One always knew when a dressing down was on the way -- it was always preceeded by a long noisy clearing of the throat. But once the air was cleared it was on to get the next big story.

Vinnie Doyle was a dedicated newsman whose single-minded goal was to be the best editor on the Dublin scene. He worked hard and in the true tradition of newsmen, partied hard. His passing is the end of an era in Irish news-gathering and we who worked closely with him will join his wife Gertie and his three sons in mourning his passing.

Martin Brennan is former news editor of the Herald

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