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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


Liam D. Bergin

Nationalist Editor

Source: CARLOVIANA 1994/95

Liam D. Bergin was known and respected among newspapermen from all parts of Ireland and beyond. Liam was the Carlow Nationalist for several generations and gave the provincial press an enhanced status. Where ‘provincial’ might appear to be a patronising or even a pejorative description, Liam gave it respectability and authority.

Liam D. was a man of integrity and principle. He brought to his craft a seriousness of purpose, a demand for standards of excellence in content and in presentation. He grew up with the Nationalist through the Conlon family links. Liam’s boyhood in Dublin Street where his father, Paddy Bergin, was a publican, ‘character,’ raconteur, singer in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, an old Carlovian, was formative. Carlow was a town with a life of its own, its sense of community, of fun, of culture. Bergin’s pub was frequented by lots of farming folk in town for fair and market, ensuring an easy relationship between town and country.

The Nationalist catered for a largely rural readership in the farming counties of Carlow, West Wicklow, Kildare, Laois and the borders of Wexford and Offaly. Before the dailies and tabloids reached into every home and village the Nationalist broadened horizons, extended the readers’ range of interest, provided topics for fireside and pub talk.

Liam valued the news of the community, demanded honest and impartial reporting of what was happening in the parishes. He refused to suppress what he considered to be reportable news. He had a high opinion of his readers. He travelled extensively in Europe and the USA. His Topics of the Times feature offered a panoramic view of the world. He introduced columnists such as Seamus Farrell, Myles Na Gopaleen, George Knowall and John Monahan.

He travelled with an eye to improving the presentation of the paper, bettering its layout, installing modern printing presses and newer typefaces. Carlow produced the most attractive and technically advanced of Ireland’s provincial weekly’s.

Liam received awards from the London Observer and other professionals for his editorial and quality production achievements. He wrote a column for the Sunday Press for many years. He contributed to magazines, Irish and foreign. He lectured for several semesters in the Department of Journalism at Southern Illinois University. He was a founder member of the Old Carlow Society which he encouraged unfailingly.

Liam’s schooling went from the Graiguecullen N.S. to Knockbeg College and Dominican College, Newbridge. (His brother, Paddy, joined the Dominican order as a priest). In search of health he spent time in Switzerland and Spain before the 1939-1945 war. In Barcelona he became an aficionado of Spanish art, music and culture.

He was an avid reader, enjoyed conversation, was a devout Catholic, student of scripture and devotee of the psalms of the divine office. Although he spent a lot of his time in Dublin, Liam never left Carlow. He wanted the Nationalist to be a credit to Carlow.

Liam welcomed aspiring journalists to the Carlow newsroom. Scores of well-known journalists began their careers with Liam as editor, encourager and tutor. Micheline McCormack, Charley Doherty, Paddy Ginane, Paul Muldowney, Seamus O’Rourke, John Lombard, Michael Finlan, Patrick Nolan, Tony Gallagher, John Kelly, Des Maguire, Jim Downey, Fergus Black, Margaret O’Rourke were apprenticed to their trade via the Nationalist editorial chair. The Carlow paper was a recruiting ground for Dublin dailies and electronic media personalities — Des Fisher, Kevin Devlin, Olivia O’Leary, John Ellis, Joe O’Brien, among others.

Liam was a respecter of persons, kindly in his relationships, professional in his demands upon those who collaborated with his work as a journalist-editor.

-P.J.B.

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