By Siobhán Cronin
THERE were many tributes to retiring Southern Star reporter Leo McMahon at a special event held in the Blue Haven Hotel in Kinsale.
The reporter, who began working in the Star in 1977, was met by a packed room of well-wishers, old and new friends, relations, and familiar faces from his almost-40 years of journalism.
The newspaper’s managing director Sean Mahon praised Leo for his loyalty to the paper, incredible work ethic and noted he had contributed to around 20m copies sales of the paper in his career!
‘Compared to the considerably shorter periods of work that people tend to stay with companies these days, Leo has dedicated pretty much the whole of his working life to The Southern Star and I think we’d all agree he has contributed enormously to the company’s success,’ he said.
He also read out a letter from An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, congratulating him on his retirement and wishing him well.
Also in attendance were Southern Star directors Maeve and her daughter Fiona O'Regan who thanked Leo for his outstanding commitment to the paper down the years.
Southern Star editor Con Downing recalled Leo’s many years of dedicated work in Cork and especially his role as South Cork correspondent. He had also deputised for the former editor Liam O’Regan on many occasions, he said.
He noted Leo’s ‘code’ for the wonderful spreads of cake and refreshments regularly served up at many of the functions Leo would so graciously attend. ‘If he wrote there was ‘excellent fare’ then you knew that he had been well looked after by the (mostly) women at the event,’ said Con.
He said that Leo was a very popular journalist and he had never heard a bad word spoken about him, nor had Leo ever spoken ill of anybody he encountered in his many years of dedicated work.
Judge James McNulty made an unexpected ‘presentation’ when he joked that he may need to charge the reporter with criminal damage of the courthouse table in Macroom. He produced photographic evidence of Leo’s signature engraved on the reporter’s desk, including the years he reported from there.
‘He would probably use the Bart Simpson excuse,’ noted Judge McNulty, ‘that i didn’t do it and anyway nobody saw me do it, and there’s no way you can prove anything!’
Taking the podium himself, Leo thanked everyone for their kind words and said he was very lucky to have had a career doing something that gave him such pleasure.
‘It’s probably not fashionable to mention it but I’m grateful for a faith that kept me steady because journalism can be a very demanding profession where any mistake is very public,’ he said.
See also: People in Profile, page 29.