Raymond McClean remembered by The Irish News
A much-respected former member of The Irish News Pre-Press team, Raymond McClean, passed away this week in the presence of his loving family in Belfast.
Ray was a beloved husband to Josephine (Jo) and a devoted father to his three beloved children, Maura, Martin, and Ruairi.
Resident in west Belfast, he worked for 49 years at The Irish News, and since news of his passing, many of his colleagues have been paying tribute to ``a man of vision'' and a legendary ''practical joker''.
A key member of the busy Pre-Press department for decades, Ray compiled ads for daily publication and was also The Irish News bowling correspondent.
Irish News colleague Liam McMullen spoke highly of Ray, commenting that he was known not only for the many light-hearted moments, but for his dedication to his craft as well.
Liam said: “Ray had unerring accuracy when delivering complex work against tight deadlines. He was a great team player and took the lead many times.”
Ray joined the Irish News in 1958, long before computers where around, but as a member of the Day-Pre-Press department he went on to master digital publishing using the latest Apple computers.
“Ray did not limit his work to just production - he wore many hats over the years,” said Liam.
He continued: “Ray remained fondly in our hearts long after he left in 2007 and will be sadly missed by all.”
Former Pre-Press boss Brian Kearney worked with Ray for over 40 years and remembers him as “an institution, and a real character.”
“Ray wasn’t a man of his time, he was a visionary. He would have made a great author, he was a very clever man.
``We had some great times, he had a great wit. Our sympathy goes to his family at this very sad time.''
Irish News sports editor Thomas Hawkins echoed the sentiments of all in the building when he said that Ray will be remembered with great affection by all who knew him.
“A stickler for punctuality and punctuation, Ray was always on time with his copy,” said Hawkins.
“A belt and braces man, he would ring up every time he filed to ensure his emails had landed.”
A man of great wit and humour, Ray was also The Irish News poet on occasions too.
Being a “stickler” for punctuation and grammar, Thomas recalled the playful delight Ray would have when he spotted a glaring error in a paper: “Punctuation and grammar, or rather lack of it, always gave him a good laugh.
“He would often ring the Sportsdesk, chuckling away to himself at some howler in the paper or papers far afield.
“‘Catherine Cookson tapes for sale’ somehow became Catherine Cookstown in one local paper, much to Ray’s wonderment.”
A practical joker around the office, many of his colleague fell foul of his tricks.
“Ray could imitate the voice of the Irish News Chairman with uncanny accuracy,'' he added.
“The story goes that, as instructed by Ray using his pitch perfect Chairman's voice, one poor unsuspecting colleague delivered six boxes of A4 paper to the chairman’s office on the first floor and placed them on the desk as instructed.
“When an irate Chairman rang down to the editorial desk to find out who the blazes had blocked his office, the penny dropped and Ray sensibly left the scene. What a character.”
The deepest sympathies of The Irish News staff go out to his wife Jo and the entire McClean family.