NORTHERN STANDARD AND BORDER JOURNALISM MOURNING THE PASSING OF PATSY McARDLE

13 January 2022 No Comments by The Northern Standard

‘Blayney reporter’s life and work generate multitude of tributes

By Peter Hughes

The Northern Standard, the community of Castleblayney, and the Border region and national theatres of journalism, lost an essential personality on Thursday, January 6 last with the passing at the age of 82 of Patrick J McArdle, Knockagolis. Patsy, as he was universally known, had been a full-time member of the reporting staff of this newspaper for over 40 years and was one of the most prominent and respected members of his profession in the Border counties and nationally.

His reporting on the impact on the Border region of the Troubles period in Irish history and his coverage of European political affairs brought him particular renown and a number of accolades. He was also widely praised for the investigative reporting underpinning “The Secret War”, his book published by Mercier Press in 1984 which focused on “the sinister activities along the Border” engaged in by Irish and British security forces during the Northern Ireland conflict.

An active member of the National Union of Journalists, one of his proudest moments was his receipt in 2017 of a Life Membership of the NUJ. NUJ members and other colleagues formed a guard of honour at Saturday’s Funeral Mass at St Mary’s Church in Castleblayney, where Fr Stephen Duffy of the Muckno Parish in a moving homily captured something of the essence of Patsy’s personal and professional life (see Castleblayney News).

In addition to politicians, community leaders and fellow professionals, all sections of his local Castleblayney community were represented among those who attended the funeral and conveyed their sympathies to Patsy’s long-time partner Patricia, daughter Marie McCabe and her mother Bernadette, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, son-in-law Brian, extended family, neighbours and friends.

Patsy became a full-time member of the editorial department of the Northern Standard at the outset of the 1980s, but his association with the newspaper as a contributor and close colleague to its reporting team stretched back to his own entry into journalism in the early 1960s and his days with the Dundalk-based Argus provincial weekly. Although assigned the title of Deputy News Editor and given the brief of supplying coverage from the Castleblayney and Carrickmacross areas, Patsy’s working ambit was considerably broader than those designations.

Identified by Northern Standard proprietor Paddy Smyth as the man who could help the paper make significant circulation inroads into the south of the county, where the Argus and the Dundalk Democrat then held considerable sway, Patsy quickly delivered on this mission. As the decade of the ‘80s progressed, he was a significant factor in the Standard’s full evolution into the dominant newspaper force in Co Monaghan.

Born at Knockagolis, Castleblayney to Patrick and Mary Ellen McArdle on March 14, 1939, Patsy McArdle stayed a ‘Blayney man in his heart and soul all his life. Although his work took him on regular sojourns to Dublin and the cities of Continental Europe, Knockagolis remained his base and his harbour, one he would never detach himself from despite what must have been many tempting opportunities to relocate closer to the heartbeat of the national press scene to which he was a prolific, indefatigable contributor, or the powerbases of the European Parliament, the operations of which he took a close and fruitful professional interest in.

Through the weekly Castleblayney News pages in the Standard, he covered the affairs of the town with an insider’s insightfulness and a local man’s pride. He was always keen to promote the town and every local organisation wishing to get information into print would find him patiently and unfailingly at their service.

Patsy took a particular interest in initiatives aimed at stimulating business growth in the town and for a time took an active role with the Castleblayney Chamber of Commerce. But mostly he preferred to advance the town’s interests and promote its merits through the medium of his local newspaper journalism.

WORK WITH THE STANDARD

It is this writer’s recollection, having started my own career with the Northern Standard at the same time as Patsy McArdle joined the paper on a full-time basis, that the ‘Blayney man had something of a whirlwind impact on our world. The established order of our pages was scattered to the four winds when he blew into town, and when we put the pages back together again they were in a new and more dynamic sequencing.

At the start of the 1980s Patsy was already registering highly on the Richter Scale of the national media scene, chiefly through his work with the Sunday World and his live reporting for Downtown Radio and other broadcast outlets of the dramatic and frequently highly violent outworking of the Troubles in the North. He carried with him the reputation of “a tabloid man”, and that undoubtedly made some of us in and around the rather staid environments of the Standard office a bit uneasy. But Paddy Smyth was a smart man, and his trust in Patsy to deliver what the paper needed as a new decade dawned was expediently and amply…

Full report in The Northern Standard

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