Thursday, October 5, 2023

There once was an editor from Limerick

Photo by another marvelous neighbour, Ashley Wood-Suszko
My friend and neighbour Taras Gula attended a conference in Ireland this past summer and returned with a bunch of local newspapers that he gave me and I can't stop reading them. 

The Connacht Tribune calls itself "Ireland's Best Local Newspaper." 

The Limerick Leader's motto is "Limerick and Proud." 

The Irish Independent is "Ireland's best-selling newspaper." 

The Dublin Gazette is simply "The Latest News & Features from the County of Dublin. 

These traditionally designed newspapers, with giant photos, screaming headlines and craftily written--as well as sharply local--stories, compete for attention like I do with my brothers and sisters. 

One of my many journalistic mentors, the late Peter Worthington, pointed out that my being the youngest of 10 probably made me a better headline writer.

So far my favourite is the broadsheet Limerick paper; it measures almost a full metre across. Opening the Leader is a commitment; bordering on real exercise. (Limerick's also the best place name anywhere, except for Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Que.)

Reading the Leader reminds me of when I used to stretch out on the floor on my stomach as a kid to pore over the double-page-spread funnies in the weekend Sudbury paper. Except Dick Tracy. I never liked  Dick Tracy. Or Mary Worth. But it's sure weird that I remembered them, just now, just like that.

and Mike's bog adventure

Don't get me wrong. I am not a guy to yearn for what are  innaccurately referred to as "the good old days." Like my dad used to say, "the best thing about the good old days is that they're gone." But I am savouring these old-fashioned newspapers' celebrations of everyday life; up close. 

Exhibit a: On page 77 (!) of the Connacht Tribune, there's the Keady brothers, Michael and Bill, with a four-stone (whatever that is) keg of butter believed to be over 400 years old that they found buried in the bog near their home when they were cutting turf. (And I thought the stuff in our fridge was past its due-date. Hahaha.)

Then this. The Limerick paper has a "Limriddler" contest: a riddle in the form of a limerick.  

Me, I'll give a free lifetime subscription to Pete's Blog&Grille to whoever writes the best rhyme about somebody from Limerick. It's really hard. I've been trying for years.

That reminds me. I myself have a free lifetime subscription to the Manitoulin Expositor, which, if it came from Ireland, would blend in nicely with this bunch. 

I've never been to Ireland but I sure want to go now.  

From reading these papers, I have a feeling that I'd meet a whole bunch of people who not only look like me (that's a bit frightening, come to think of it) but also who are inherently interested in every little thing.  

They find stories everywhere and don't have to look far beyond their own front porches to unearth rivetting yarns. In June, just outside Dublin, a member of the Turvey Allotments Association discovered  a rare "bee orchid" on the property. A bee orchid looks like a bee in a flower! Imagine that!

So I can tell you how much I
admire that newspaper of his.

Fact: These great newspapers all share the motto of Pete's Blog&Grille and that is, "is any one person inherently more interesting than any other? No! Is any single place more interesting than any other? No! Have you ever seen a more ridiculous motto than this one? No!"

Finally, do you have to go to Ireland to read newspapers like the Leader, the Independent, the Tribune or the Dublin Gazette? You most certainly do not!

The aforementioned Expositor and Niagara-On-The-Lake's The Lake Report ("Canada's most decorated community paper") which my lifelong (well, so far, anyway) pal Kevin MacLean helps shape are both world-class community papers that know how to make the most of and microscopically focus on local events and people.  

Social media like Google and Facebook can't hope to compete with this human-contact next-door-neighbour journalism. Journalism that seems to care about its readers' well-being.

It's not just information you get from newspapers like this; it's a sense of belonging and comfort. Reassurance.

Reaping information from Facebook and Google serves up the exact opposite sensations. 

Social media can no more replace good community papers like these any more than it can replace Kevin, Taras, Ashley or those four-century-old-butter-finding Keady boys.


1 comment:

  1. There was a young lad from Limerick
    He spent most of his life as a little prick
    He showed off his arse
    With two shiny parts
    And the girls lined up to give a kick