Tributes paid to former RTÉ News managing editor Rory O'Connor

Wednesday 12 June 2013 09.46
Rory O'Connor had a lead role in computerisation and electronic news gathering (Picture: © RTÉ Stills Library)
Rory O'Connor had a lead role in computerisation and electronic news gathering (Picture: © RTÉ Stills Library)

Tributes have been paid to Rory O’Connor, a former managing editor of RTÉ News and best-selling author, who has died at the age of 85.

Mr O’Connor died in hospital in Dún Laoghaire yesterday, following a short illness.

He is survived by his wife, Pauline, and three adult children, Émer, Roderick, Paulette.

Mr O’Connor served in RTÉ as Editor, Television News, and Assistant Director of News, before become Managing Editor News.

He retired from RTÉ in 1993. In the 1980s he initiated and implemented a range of objectives to develop and advance Television News Broadcasting.

The legacy of these initiatives has largely shaped the modern RTÉ newsroom. The most significant success was the broadcasting of one hour of news, features, sport and business, featuring a high profile news anchorman or woman, between 6pm and 7pm on weekdays, which won a large audience.

Mr O’Connor had a lead role in computerisation and electronic news gathering, the development of high-profile anchormen and women, and the setting up a foreign unit staffed by specialists.

In 1994, he was the executive producer of the television series River Of Words, comprising five half-hour long films on distinguished Kerry writers John B Keane, Bryan MacMahon, Brendan Kennelly, Maurice Walsh and George Fitzmaurice.

Mr O'Connor grew up in the village of Knocknagoshel in Co Kerry. His father, Séamus, was a local schoolmaster who was in the IRA during the War of Independence and later wrote a popular memoir, Tomorrow Was Another Day, published in 1970.

Rory's mother was also a school teacher.

Educated in Rockwell College in Co Tipperary, and the Kings Inns, where he studied to be a barrister, Rory began his media career at the age of 21 as a junior journalist with The Irish Press in 1949, later working as a news editor and film critic for The Sunday Press.

In 1954, he joined the national radio station, Rádio Éireann, as a news writer and broadcaster, while studying Law at the Kings Inns.

He was called to the bar in 1960, but returned to broadcasting journalism when RTÉ Television was set up in the early 1960s.

In 2000, Rory O'Connor's memoirs of growing up as a boy in rural Ireland in the 1930s, entitled Gander At The Gate, was published.

The book rose to number one in the best-sellers list.