Obituary for Liam O'Regan, editor of The Southern Star

 

This article first appeared in The Southern Star in January 2009.

 

Liam O'Regan, late editor of The Southern Star

 Liam O'Regan, who died on January 2 2009, was managing director and editor of The Southern Star for 50 years.

 

 One of the best-known newspaper men in the country, Mr O'Regan was a passionate advocate of a free and independent press. He believed that the provincial press played a crucial role in sustaining local communities, particularly in rural areas.

 

 One of the few remaining independently-owned provincial newspapers, The Southern Star, founded in 1889, is part of the fabric of life in a large part of County Cork. The Southern Star is a newspaper with very much a nationalist background and tradition, and Liam was determined to uphold that tradition.

 

 Liam O'Regan was born on October 31, 1936, the eldest of a family of five. His father Joe O'Regan had become a director of The Southern Star in 1919, eventually becoming the sole owner around 1949.

 

 Liam attended Lisheen National School, Rockwell College and University College Dublin where he graduated with two degrees, a BA and a BComm, having studied for them simultaneously. One of his lecturers was Dr Garret FitzGerald, a man he greatly admired and whom he quoted many times over the years in his leading articles. Having graduated from UCD, he studied at the London School of Printing. Returning to Ireland in 1958, he joined the Munster Express in Waterford.

 

 Then in the autumn of that year, Paddy O'Reilly, editor of The Southern Star, retired unexpectedly following the death of his wife, and so Liam came back to Skibbereen, probably sooner than he had anticipated, and took over the editorship. So, in 1958 began Liam O'Regan's tenure as editor. In 1966, he succeeded his father as controlling director of the company though Joe O'Regan maintained a lively interest in the firm right up to his death in December 1975.

 

 In his 50 years in charge, Liam was a progressive and innovative business man. He led The Southern Star through several generations of technological advances, always introducing developments with great willingness and vision. He was one of the first in the country to embrace direct-input and other advances and all these changes were introduced without confrontation or friction of any kind with unions or employees. Liam was noted in the industry as being a model employer and was very loyal and respectful to all those with whom he worked.

 

 Liam was a brilliant writer and a forceful journalist. As a political analyst he was without peer. Outside of his usual heavy workaday demands, he had a great love of history and he occasionally wrote historical articles for The Southern Star and other journals, including the Mizen Journal.

 

 Liam was a very keen sports fan. In his younger days he was a strong rugby player, a fine athlete and also a keen badminton player.

 

 Skibbereen Junior Chamber and Skibbereen Lions Club also benefited from Liam's involvement. He spent a term as president of the Lions Club and was very active in the fundraising drive for the provision of the day care centre which opened in 1998 at Skibbereen Community Hospital.

 

 Though his role as managing director and editor made him a public figure, Liam was essentially a shy man and didn't like speaking in public. He preferred to express himself through his writing.

 

 Liam married Maeve Carroll in 1969. They had five children; Lisa, Fiona, Breffni, Nadine and Neil. In the final months of his illness, Liam had the great consolation of being cared for at home. The birth of his first grandchild, Alex, some months back brought him great joy, even at such a difficult time.