The Irish Times is an Irish daily broadsheet newspaper launched on 29 March 1859. The editor is Kevin O'Sullivan who succeeded Geraldine Kennedy in 2011; the deputy editor is Denis Staunton. The Irish Times is published every day except Sundays. It employs 420 people.
Though formed as a Protestant nationalist paper, within two decades and under new owners it had become the voice of Irish unionism. It is no longer considered a unionist paper; it is generally perceived as being politically liberal and progressive, as well as being centre-right on economic issues.
The paper's most prominent columnists include writer and arts commentator Fintan O'Toole and the satirist Miriam Lord. Former Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald was also a columnist. Senior international figures, including Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, have written for its op-ed page. Its most prominent columns have included Drapier (an anonymous piece produced weekly by a politician, giving the 'insider' view of politics), Rite and Reason (a weekly religious column, edited by Patsy McGarry, the 'religious affairs' editor) and the long-running An Irishman's Diary. An Irishman's Diary was penned by Patrick Campbell in the forties (under the pseudonym 'Quidnunc'), by Seamus Kelly from 1949-1979 (also writing as 'Quidnunc'), and more recently by Kevin Myers. Since Myer's move to the rival Irish Independent, "An Irishman's Diary" is usually the work of Frank McNally. On the sports pages, Philip Reid is the paper's golf correspondent.
One of its most famous columns was the biting and humorous Cruiskeen Lawn satire column written by Myles na gCopaleen, the pen name of Brian O'Nolan (Brian Ó Nualláin) who also wrote books using the name Flann O'Brien. Cruiskeen Lawn is an Anglicised spelling of the Irish words cruiscín lán, meaning 'the full little jug'. Cruiskeen Lawn made its debut in October 1940 and appeared with varying regularity until O'Nolan's death in 1966.
Circulation has declined in recent years. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, it had a daily circulation of 100,951 during the first six months of 2011. The average daily circulation, of The Irish Times was down to 92,565 for the period January to June 2012 according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (UK) (ABC). This represented a fall in circulation of 8% on a year-on-year basis, slightly less than the average newspaper decline of 9%. Circulation then further declined to 88,356 for the period July to December 2012. This represented a fall in circulation of 8% on a year-on-year basis. Circulation then further declined to 80,332 copies per day in . Circulation then further declined to 76,882 copies per day in . Circulation then declined to 76,194 for the period January to June 2015.
The first appearance of a newspaper using the name The Irish Times occurred in 1823, but it closed in 1825. The title was revived as a thrice weekly publication by Major Lawrence E. Knox, with the first edition being published on 29 March 1859. It was originally founded as a moderate Protestant Nationalist newspaper, reflecting the politics of Knox, who stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate for Isaac Butt's Home Rule League. Its headquarters were at 4 Lower Abbey Street in Dublin. In its early days, its main competitor was the Dublin Daily Express.
After Knox's death in 1873 the paper was sold to the widow of Sir John Arnott, MP, a former Lord Mayor of Cork and owner of Arnotts, one of Dublin's major Department stores. The sale, for £35,000, led to two major changes. Its headquarters was shifted to 31 Westmoreland Street, remaining in buildings on or near that site until 2005. Its politics also shifted dramatically, becoming predominantly Protestant and Unionist, and it was closely associated with the Irish Unionist Alliance. The paper, along with the Irish Independent and various regional papers, called for the execution of the leaders of the failed 1916 Easter Rising.
Though the paper became a publicly listed company in 1900, the family continued to hold a majority shareholding until the 1960s (even after the family lost control, the great-grandson of the original purchaser was the paper's London editor). The last member of the Arnott family to sit on the paper's board was Sir Lauriston Arnott, who died in 1958.
The editor during the 1930s, R. M. Smyllie, had strong anti-fascist views: he angered the Irish Catholic hierarchy by opposing General Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Later, The Irish Times, like other national newspapers, had problems with Irish Government censorship during World War II. The Times was largely pro-Allied and was opposed to the Éamon de Valera government's policy of neutrality.
The Irish Times Trust
In 1974, ownership was transferred to a non-charitable trust, The Irish Times Trust. The former owner, Major Thomas McDowell, was made "president for life" of the trust which runs the paper and was paid a large dividend. However several years later the articles of the Trust were adjusted, giving Major McDowell 10 preference shares and one more vote than the combined votes of all the other directors should any move be made to remove him. Major McDowell died in 2009. The Trust was set up in 1974 as "a company limited by guarantee" to purchase The Irish Times Limited and to ensure that The Irish Times would be published as an independent newspaper with specific editorial objectives. (See below).
The Trust is regulated by a legal document, the Memorandum and Articles of Association, and controlled by a body of people (the Governors) under company law. It is not a charity and does not have charitable status. It has no beneficial shareholders and it cannot pay dividends. Any profits made by The Irish Times cannot be distributed to the Trust but must be used to strengthen the newspaper, directly or indirectly.
The Trust is composed of a maximum of 11 Governors. The Trust appoints Governors who are required to be "representative broadly of the community throughout the whole of Ireland".
As of June 2012 Chair of the Trust Ruth Barrington,
Governors of the Trust Tom Arnold, David Begg, Noel Dorr, Margaret Elliott CBE, Rosemary Kelly OBE, Eoin O'Driscoll, Fergus O'Ferrall, Judith Woodworth, Barry Smyth, Caitriona Murphy,
In 1969, the longest-serving editor of The Irish Times, Douglas Gageby, was allegedly called a "white nigger" by the company chairman (a former British army officer), because of the newspaper's coverage of Northern Ireland at the outset of the Troubles, which was upsetting the British government.
The paper suffered considerable financial difficulty in 2002 when a drop in advertising revenue coincided with a decision by the company to invest its reserves in the building of a new printing plant. None of the journalists were laid off, but many took a voluntary redundancy package when the paper was greatly restructured. Some foreign bureaux were closed and it also stopped publishing 'colour' pages devoted to local Irish regions, with regional coverage now merged with news. The paper's problems stemmed partly from internal strife which led to Major McDowells's daughter, Karen Erwin, not being made Chief Executive. The reorganisation had the desired effect; after posting losses of almost €3 million in 2002, the paper returned to profit in 2003.
John Waters, the only columnist to speak out about the perceived vast salaries of the editor, managing director and deputy editor, was sacked and re-hired a week later, in November 2003. Former editor Geraldine Kennedy was paid more than the editor of the UK's top non-tabloid newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which has a circulation of about nine times that of The Irish Times. Later, columnist Fintan O'Toole told the Sunday Independent: "We as a paper are not shy of preaching about corporate pay and fat cats but with this there is a sense of excess. Some of the sums mentioned are disturbing. This is not an attack on Ms. Kennedy, it is an attack on the executive level of pay. There is double-standard of seeking more job cuts while paying these vast salaries.
In January 2005, the paper was due to run a front-page story on the Provisional IRA's denial of involvement in the Northern Bank robbery, one of Europe's largest ever, and a column by Kevin Myers, which said that the Provisional IRA were responsible. Myers asked for clarification of the decision from the editor, and later left the paper.
The following May, the paper launched a new international edition, which is available in London and southeast England at the same time as other daily newspapers (previously, copies of the Irish edition were flown from Dublin to major cities in Britain on passenger flights, arriving around lunchtime). It is printed at the Newsfax plant in Hackney, and uses the Financial Times distribution network.
In 2009, the Supreme Court ordered the paper to pay €600,000 in costs despite winning its case about the importance of protecting journalistic sources, and called its destruction of evidence "reprehensible conduct".
The newspaper has been criticized for its perceived support of the British Army. An article in The Phoenix magazine examined an article in The Irish Times published in August 2010 on Irish nationals serving in the British Army. According to The Phoenix, the article romanticized the war in Afghanistan and was little more than a recruitment advertisement for the British Army. The magazine accused the editor Geraldine Kennedy and the Irish Times board of violating the Defense Act which prohibits any kind of advertising for recruitment for a foreign army and article 15.6.1 of the Constitution of Ireland which states "The right to raise and maintain military or armed forces is vested exclusively in the Oireachtas".
On 9 September 2011, the paper published a pseudonymous article by Kate Fitzgerald. Unknown to the paper, she had committed suicide the previous August 22. The revelation sparked a nationwide debate on suicide with her parents appearing on television to discuss suicide and depression. The article criticised the reaction to her illness by her employer, The Communications Clinic, although it was only after she was identified as the author that her employer became known. The article was later removed from the paper's website, causing controversy online. The editor later told her parents that sections of her article were factually incorrect, but could not say which ones. Kate's parents complained to the Office of the Press Ombudsman about an apology made to The Communications Clinic, their complaint was upheld.
The company has diversified from its original Irish Times title as a source of revenue. Irish Times Limited has taken a majority share for €5m in the Gazette Group Newspapers, a group publishing three local newspapers in West Dublin, and has acquired a property website, MyHome.ie, the second-largest property internet website in Ireland, for €50m, seen as insurance against the loss of revenue from traditional classified property advertising. In June 2009, journalists called on the board and trust to review "the flawed investment and diversification strategy of the company" and passed a motion saying that "ongoing investment in loss-making projects poses a serious threat to employment" at the newspaper. Four months later, the company announced a loss of €37 million and that 90 staff would be made redundant. The director, Maeve Donovan, who instigated the "investment and diversification" strategy, subsequently retired. She dismissed suggestions that she would receive a significant "golden handshake", saying that her package would be "nothing out of the ordinary at all". She was given a €1m "ex-gratia" payment by the newspaper "relating to a commutation of pension rights agreed with her".
In June 2010, Gazette group newspapers' managing director claimed the company's affairs were being conducted oppressively by its majority shareholder, the Irish Times.
In 1895, the paper moved from its original offices on Middle Abbey Street to D'Olier Street in the centre of Dublin. "D'Olier Street" became a metonym of The Irish Times which in turn was personified as "The Old Lady of D'Olier Street". In October 2006, the paper relocated to a new building on nearby Tara Street.
In 1994, The Irish Times established a website called Irish-times.ie; it was the first newspaper in Ireland and one of the first 30 newspapers in the world to do so. The company acquired the domain name Ireland.com in 1997, and from 1999 to 2008, used it to publish its online edition. It was freely available at first but charges and a registration fee were introduced in 2002 for access to most of the content. A number of blogs were added in April 2007 written by Jim Carroll, Shane Hegarty, and Conor Pope. On 30 June 2008, the company relaunched Ireland.com as a separate lifestyle portal and the online edition of the newspaper is now published at irishtimes.com. It is supplied free of charge, but a subscription is charged to view its archives.
On 15 October 2012 John O'Shea, Head of Online, The Irish Times, announced that the ireland.com domain name had been sold to Tourism Ireland, and that the ireland.com email service would end on 7 November 2012. The domain name was sold for €495,000. The ending of the email service affected about 15,000 subscribers.
Format and content
The paper has the same standard layout every day. The front page contains one main picture and three main news stories, with the left-hand column, News Digest, providing a 'teaser' of some of the stories inside the Home News, World News, Sport and Business Today sections as well as other information such as winning lottery numbers and weather forecasts. Inside, it usually contains eight to twelve pages of Irish news, called "Home News", covering Ireland and Northern Ireland. It devotes several pages to important stories such as the publication of government reports, government budgets, important courts cases, and so on.
World News contains news from its correspondents abroad and from news wires and services such as Reuters, the Guardian Service, and the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post service. The paper has correspondents in London, Paris, Brussels, and Washington.
The Irish Times publishes its residential property supplement every Thursday, one of the printed residential property listings for the Dublin area. This is also online. Motoring and employment supplements are published on Wednesday and Friday respectively, and are also online.
A business supplement is published every Friday, as is an entertainment supplement called The Ticket, with film, music, theatre reviews, interviews, articles, and media listings. It features cinema writer Donald Clarke and music writers Jim Carroll, Brian Boyd, Tony Clayton-Lea and others. Michael Dwyer, the distinguished film critic and recipient of the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, wrote for the supplement until his death in 2010.
On Saturdays, a Weekend section is published, with news features, arts profiles, television and radio columns, and book reviews of mainly literary and biographical works, with occasional reviews in the technology sector. The Saturday edition also includes the Magazine with consumer and lifestyle features on food, wine, gardening, and there are travel and sports supplements.
Three Sudoku puzzles and two crosswords are published daily including a cryptic crossword, formerly compiled by "Crosaire", and a "Simplex" crossword. There is also a letters page. J.J. Walsh has contributed a chess puzzle to the paper since April 1955, originally weekly the puzzle became a daily fixture in September 1972.
The paper carries political cartoons by Martyn Turner and the American cartoon strip, Doonesbury. The business section has a satirical illustration by David Rooney every Friday. Tom Mathews contributes an arts-inspired cartoon (called "Artoon") to the arts section on Saturday.
A weekly Irish language page is carried on Wednesdays.
Regular columns include:
- An Irishman's Diary
- Another Life is a weekly natural history column written and illustrated since 1977 by Michael Viney.
- Rite and Reason is a weekly religious column. It is edited by the religious editor, Patsy McGarry. Many prominent Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland bishops, Irish Jewish leaders, theologians from all faiths, and journalists, among others, have written the column which is published on the op-ed page on Mondays.
- Social and Personal
- Dr. George Ferdinand Shaw (1859)
- Rev. George Bomford Wheeler (1859–77)
- James Scott (1877–99)
- William Algernon Locker (1901–7)
- John Edward Healy (1907–34)
- Robert Maire "Bertie" Smyllie (1934–54)
- Alec Newman (1954–61)
- Alan Montgomery (1961–63)
- Douglas Gageby (1963–74 and 1977–86)
- Fergus Pyle (1974–77)
- Conor Brady (1986–2002)
- Geraldine Kennedy (2002–11)
- Kevin O'Sullivan (2011–present)
Past and present contributors
- Charles Acton
- John Banville
- Cónal Creedon
- Liam MacGabhann
- Maeve Binchy
- Brendan Behan
- Vincent Browne
- Joe Carroll
- Myles na gCopaleen
- Garret FitzGerald
- Donal Foley
- Paul Gillespie
- John Healy
- Mary Holland
- Tom Humphries
- Dennis Kennedy
- Lara Marlowe
- Seamus Martin
- Kevin Myers
- Breda O'Brien
- Conor O'Clery
- Fintan O'Toole
- Fergus Pyle
- Arthur Quinlan
- Martyn Turner
- John Waters
- Terence de Vere White
- Maev-Ann Wren