Funeral of journalist Willie Collins told of ‘self-effacing’ man

Former assistant editor at Sunday Press worked at the Irish Press group for 36 years

The Sunday Press was “a family, a very dysfunctional one at times, but [Willie Collins] loved every minute of his working life and all the people at Burgh Quay” [Irish Press group offices above]. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The late Willie Collins was no fan of emotional eulogies. "He had a strong view that in the eyes of God everybody is equal in death," said son Stephen at his father's funeral Mass on Monday.

Former assistant editor at the Sunday Press, Mr Collins, who worked at the Irish Press group for 36 years, would have been 90 on Sunday last.

He died at his Dublin home on Thursday.

"He avoided the limelight but played an important role in the production of the Sunday Press in its heyday," Stephen said.


“He was so self-effacing that few outside the office knew what he ever worked at.

"When Marcella [the late Mr Collins's daughter] was in primary school aged 9 or 10 she told her teacher that her dad worked every Saturday night selling the Sunday Press on O'Connell Bridge."

‘More lucrative’

This, he commented, “might have been more lucrative”.

The Press was “a family, a very dysfunctional one at times, but he loved every minute of his working life and all the people at Burgh Quay”.

He thanked Marcella and her husband Leon. His father “had the consolation of dying at home because of the care and attention they gave him”.

Chief mourners were Mr Collins’s children Stephen, Liam, Deirdre, Marcella and Nuala. His wife Mary was unable to attend.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by Lt Commander Patricia Butler, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny by Cmdt Kieran Carey.

Large attendance

Among the large attendance were many former Press colleagues of Mr Collins's as well as journalists from The Irish Times and other media.

Present were Irish Times deputy editor Paul O'Neill, managing editor Paddy Smyth, news editor Mark Hennessy, former editor Geraldine Kennedy, Irish Independent editor Fionnán Sheehan and that newspaper's former editor Claire Grady, Sunday World editor Colm McGinty, Daniel McConnell of the Irish Examiner, Senan Molony and Sam Smyth of the Irish Mail, Emmanuel Kehoe of the Sunday Business Post, and RTÉ's David Davin Power and Katie Hannon.

Retired journalists present included Denis Coghlan, Donal Kelly, Chris Glennon, Tim Ryan, Joseph O'Malley, Mike Burns, Ken Whelan, Michael Keane, Mick O'Kane, Don Lavery, Joe Jennings and Lorna Reid, as well as Justice Hugh O'Flaherty, Maurice Manning, Michael Farrell, John O'Shea, Moore McDowell, Stephen O'Byrnes, Liam Cosgrave jnr, Charles Townsend, Oliver Barry, Seamus Scally, GV Wright and Charlie O'Connor.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times