Lives Remembered

John Patton: Skilled Irish News journalist remembered as 'real wee gent'

John Patton always had time for people

John Patton was a bright star in a golden age of newspapers.

A former chief news 'sub' at The Irish News, he was a product of the old school of journalism whose dedication to his craft was matched by a wonderful way with people.

John came from very humble beginnings near Sion Mills in Co Tyrone, the only child of his mother Mary, a mill worker, and his father Joseph, a farm hand. He was predominantly brought up by his beloved grandmother Eliza.

A love of literature, knowledge and sport began at Liscreevaghan school where his teacher, Michael Cassidy, nurtured his talents and encouraged his advancement to further education.

John began his career with the Ulster Herald in Omagh, where he also met his future wife Anne Rutledge.

He moved to Dublin where he was a lobby correspondent in the Dáil, then joined the Drogheda Independent and finally The Irish News in Belfast, where he worked initially as a reporter before joining the sub-editors' table.

He learned his trade at a time when journalism demanded a quick wit and good general knowledge. It was hard graft but rewarding work and his excellent shorthand and typing served him well.

John was a well read man and a mine of information, with his thirst for knowledge and love of books continuing throughout his life.

These were the days before computers, when headlines had to be written to exact measurements and copy carefully edited before being cast in hot metal for the printing press.

It was a noisy, industrial environment but John was a quiet, unassuming man who always had time for people. He was an excellent worker, neat and tidy, and treated his workmates with kindness and consideration.

He had a good word for everybody and never seemed to get flustered, just getting on with the job. His many friends and colleagues on Donegall Street described him as "a real wee gent".

John worked through the darkest days of the Troubles, on many occasions finding himself in difficult situations, but always believed he had a guardian angel keeping him safe.

Away from work his abiding passions were cricket and Arsenal Football Club.

In his earlier days he also played hurling and hockey.

A great family man, John was father to son Liam and daughters Maire, Anne, Eilish, Martina, Shauna and Una. He also loved the company of his 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

His beloved wife Anne, to whom he was married for 59 years, passed away six years ago.

John Patton, of Dermott Hill Green in west Belfast, died aged 94 on July 20.

At his funeral at Holy Trinity Church, Fr Brendan Mulhall said he would be remembered by his friends and neighbours for his devout faith, kindness and generosity.

His month's mind Mass will be celebrated at Holy Trinity at 6.30pm today.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam uasal.


Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Lives Remembered