It isn’t very often that the frenetic chatter of the Irish Examiner’s newsroom dies to a whisper.
It happened in 1979 when Pope John Paul kissed the tarmac at Dublin Airport. It happened in 1988 when Ireland beat England in the European Championship and in 2001 when the full horror of 9/11 unfolded.
It happened again yesterday.
Around the newsroom, muted TV screens were showing emotional scenes from Thailand as the last of a group of young boys and their soccer coach were rescued from a flooded cave.
Nobody was watching. They were poised to listen as outgoing CEO Tom Murphy and directors Tom Crosbie and his father Ted closed the last chapter of the Crosbie family’s long involvement with the Irish Examiner media group.
Tom Murphy declared the Examiner group “the best company I have ever worked with,” chiding video photographer Dan Linehan for recording the slight tremble in his voice as he spoke of the collegiality he enjoyed in the role he held since 2010.
Dan carried on regardless, bolstered by a quip reminding him: “Don’t worry. He’s not your boss anymore.”
The levity broke the ice for Tom Crosbie, the Landmark Media chairman whose forebear and namesake edited the then Cork Examiner in the mid-1800s before becoming proprietor in 1872.
He first reminded the staff gathered round of his aversion to public speaking. “You know me and speaking,” he said, emotion rising.
“I try to avoid it.”
Nonetheless, eloquence trumped emotion as Tom noted: “The paper speaks every day and it is important that that continues.
Gazing at the assembled staff, his father, Ted, who once famously described himself as “a chemist by training, a shovel engineer by vocation, and a manager by desperation,” took a different tack as he raised the ghost of Cork’s Apostle of Temperance.
Noting his own advisory role with the Examiner since 2013, the former chairman and director of Thomas Crosbie Holdings declared a “great similarity” between himself and the statute of Father Mathew.
“The statue sitting in Patrick Street looks to make sure that Mangan’s clock is accurate, that buses come on time and, up to recently, looked with severity at those coming in and out of the Swan and Cygnet pub.”
Ted Crosbie has a long memory. Long enough to remember personally more than 60 years of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of a newspaper founded by John Francis Maguire in 1841.
Certainly long enough to remember a common denominator between the summer of 2018 and the summer of 1976 when the Examiner became the first daily newspaper in Ireland or Britain to move from a form of printing grounded in the 16th century to modern web offset printing that eventually led to a fully computerised system a decade later.
“I don’t remember the heatwave of 1976 because we were moving commission and getting going with photo typesetting and offset press. It was a year of considerable stress but it was successful.
“Because heatwave dust rises, eyes fill with tears but only 10% are for family anxiety. The rest are tears of joy for carrying on the publications.”
Then they were handshakes and pats, tears and cheers as colleagues gathered closer.
Ted received more hugs than an England soccer captain but it was a kiss from a female colleague that gave him, his son and Tom Murphy a neat exit.
With a glint in his eye, he said: “It isn’t often you get kissed by a cashier.”
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