Passing of proud Kerryman and political commentator

World of Politics with Harry McGee

It’s been a tough week for the world of media and politics – and particularly for those of us on the politics team in The Irish Times – with the loss of Michael O’Regan, who died suddenly last weekend. Michael was wonderful journalist, a decent human being, and a proud Kerryman to his core. From 1981 until his retirement several years ago, Michael had been a stalwart of political coverage for The Irish Times, as parliamentary correspondent.

Tall with that distinctive head of curly russet hair he delivered all his pronouncements in a rich baritone with an even richer Kerry accent. It made him a once-off.

Michael had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the people who had passed through Leinster House during his four decades there but for all the Kerry people Michael reserved a special ‘grá’ and knew them inside out, plus all their kith and kin.

I myself had leant heavily on Michael only ten days before his death when doing a profile on the Healy-Raes. They were another family which Michael understood inside out – in fact, at Jackie-Healy Rae’s funeral a decade ago, Michael was name-checked from the altar during the eulogy.

Anyway, I was doing a profile of the Healy Raes, who were celebrating 50 years in elected office, and was down in Kilgarvan meeting the family. I need to get an expert perspective on the phenomenon they were.

Michael had just been to see the play, ‘Sive’, by one of his great heroes, John B Keane in the Gaiety that Thursday night. He went along with friends from the Kerry Association of which he was president.

Even though it was well after 10pm when he arrived home, he was happy to talk for half an hour about the distinctive characteristics of that South Kerry family.

“One thing about them was they were incredibly good at PR. Margaret Thatcher had Saatchi and Saatchi. The Healy Raes had the Healy Raes,” he told me.

Pictured: Michael O’Regan…stalwart of political journalism.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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