Former Cork Examiner journalist and columnist Maureen Fox died at her home in Brittany, France, yesterday. She was 72.
She was described by former Examiner colleagues yesterday as fiesty, independent and a barrel of laughs, and as the doyenne of journalism in the south.
Feelgood editor Irene Feighan said Ms Fox was one of the first female journalists to work in the Examiner newsroom.
“She had a unique, confident voice and was not afraid to express herself. She spoke directly to readers and she was not afraid to tackle any subject, news, fashion or social diary.”
Ms Fox, whose family ran a business, Booth and Fox, on Emmet Place, Cork, joined the then Cork Examiner in 1970 as a copytaker and went on to become one of its most popular journalists.
She covered women’s issues in her Fox on Friday column, but is perhaps best known for the hugely popular Paws Awhile column, which was “written” by her dog, Ponsonby, who would often accompany her to work.
Another basset hound, Erskine, later took over the column, which always generated an enormous response from the public, helping Ms Fox build up a loyal following of readers during her distinguished career.
In 1986, she was the first Irish print journalist to receive an award for her “outstanding contribution to world peace and friendship”. The Friendship Force International Awards, decided by a panel which included Rosalynn Carter, wife of the ex-US president Jimmy Carter, was presented to her in March, 1986.
She was renowned for her charity work, and set up the Coal Fund, to which her readers donated. She retired from the Examiner in 1991.
Ms Fox was also well-known on Cork’s social and theatre circuit, and was approached by the PDs in 1997 to stand as a general election candidate in Cork South Central.
After her divorce, she married Jan van Putten, and the couple lived in Lismore where they built a beautiful log cabin, before moving to Brittany, where she passed away yesterday.
Ms Fox is survived by her daughter Tanya, her sister Sandra, and brother Brian.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalised.