Kerry-born journalist and writer Con Houlihan has died at the age of 86 after a long illness.

Mr Houlihan, from Castleisland in Co Kerry, wrote with authority on many subjects, most notably sport and literature, for more than 60 years.

His journalism featured in the Sunday World, the Evening Herald, and the Irish Times.

However, it was his back-page column and articles for the Evening Press which first attracted an enormous readership.

He was also a Latin and Greek scholar, and was admired for his knowledge of language, syntax and writing style.

He is intrinsically linked to one of Ireland's most famous pubs, Mulligans, on Poolbeg Street in Dublin, where a plaque commemorating his life and journalism was erected several years ago.

He also wrote several sports books, including one on the history of Kerry football.

President Michael D Higgins this morning paid tribute to Mr Houlihan, saying: "I have just learned of the death of Con Houlihan. He was a most original writer, with a unique style based on his extensive knowledge of literature, politics, life and sport.

“As a sportswriter, who engaged us over the decades, he had that special quality and ability to identify with the passion, pain and celebration of Irish community life.

“I express my deepest sympathy, on behalf of Sabina and myself, to his family and friends."

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan described Mr Houlihan as a giant of journalism and commentary. 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he was saddened to hear of the passing of Mr Houlihan, describing him as "one of Ireland's most respected and talented sports writers."

He said: "Con Houlihan was quite simply one of the greatest sporting writers and commentators the country has seen. His talent and contribution to sport over many years was enormous.”

There will be a minute's silence before tomorrow's Kerry versus Donegal quarter-final match in Croke Park as a tribute to Mr Houlihan.