THE coming year will be one of auspicious milestones for The Southern Star, which celebrates its 130th birthday in 2019. It also marks the 100th anniversary of the O’Regan family’s involvement in the board and the 10th anniversary of the death of Liam O’Regan, who was the longest-serving editor of the newspaper, having served 50 years in the role up to his death in January, 2009.
The Southern Star was founded in Skibbereen back in 1889 by brothers Florence and John O’Sullivan to provide an outlet for the majority nationalist viewpoint in the West Cork area. For the previous 32 years, The Skibbereen Eagle’s unionist-Protestant leanings were unashamedly expounded by editor Frederick Peel Eldon Potter, who later achieved notoriety for his infamous editorial warning the Tsar of Russia that the Eagle was keeping its eye on him.
It was unusual for a town the size of Skibbereen to have two newspapers and Potter was constantly attacking The Southern Star for the influence Catholic clergy had over it after a consortium led by Clonakilty’s Monsignor John O’Leary took it over in 1891. Suppressed by Crown forces a number of times during the War of Independence, it was revived by various nationalist groupings.
Joseph O’Regan of Aughadown joined the board in 1919 and bought out the other shareholders 30 years later, but in the meantime, in 1929, The Southern Star took over The Skibbereen Eagle. Liam O’Regan became editor, aged 22, towards the end of 1958.
The Southern Star has always moved with the times and is now a 24/7 outlet for news, views and information through its weekly print edition, website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms with a global reach. Next week’s paper will contain a special magazine to celebrate The Southern Star being West Cork’s social media for the past 130 years.