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
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
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