Marie Louise McConville: Jim Fitzpatrick was a true gentleman who will be sadly missed

Jim Fitzpatrick was a kind and dedicated boss who always tried to make the world a better place
Marie Louise McConville

I'm a big believer in first impressions.

I was raised to always make a good first impression because there are no second chances.

I remember the first time I met my husband, Darren. I liked him right away because he not only had a great smile but because he immediately got up off his seat and came over to me and introduced himself, politely.

I've always been a sucker for a true gentleman but unfortunately there's not many of them left.

This week, the staff of The Irish News said a sad farewell to one of the kindest gentlemen I have ever had the privilege to meet.

I remember the first time I met Mr Jim Fitzpatrick, chairman of The Irish News.

I hadn't been in the newspaper very long when this well dressed older man came to my desk and introduced himself.

I remember feeling quite taken aback because while I had heard the legend of "The Chairman" and his elegant double-breasted suits, I had never met him.

I was immediately struck by the kindness in his eyes and the warmth he showed towards me.

He asked me my name and a bit about myself and welcomed me to the newspaper.

I will never forget that first impression - a true gentleman, who I felt really cared for his staff - and that stayed with me.

Despite his ageing years, Mr Fitzpatrick came to work every day and knew the name of every member of staff in the paper.

Over the years, I had many an interaction with the chairman, whether it was just passing him in the newsroom or bumping into him as he returned from Mass at St Patrick's or St Mary's in Chapel Lane.

On some occasions, I would get called to his office and I loved these times because it always meant a nice chat.

Usually the conversation centred around the subjects that drew us together, family and our love of Clonard.

A man of great faith and immense generosity, Mr Fitzpatrick was always keen for us to cover anything to do with Clonard and the Redemptorist community.

On occasion, he called me at home to congratulate me on a story.

I was always touched by this because it made me feel like the work I was doing mattered.

He was always particularly interested in any story to do with peace and cross-community projects because he was always concerned for others and often, quietly went out of his way to help where he could.

I remember when I had my children, both times he personally wrote a note to me, offering congratulations, as well as enclosing a gift for the newborn.

I was deeply saddened to hear that Mr Fitzpatrick passed away on Saturday at the age of 92.

I for one will miss his kindness and how he constantly worked to better the lives of others.

A remarkable man, it was a privilege to work for him for the past two decades.

I know that my career has been all the better for knowing him.


It's true what they say, every day is a school day.

This week, at the grand old age of 44, I've discovered the divine, sweet taste of stewed rhubarb.

The thing is, my mother-in-law makes THE best custard in the world.

And, last weekend, when I was feeling a bit low about things, she pulled some rhubarb from my father-in-law's allotment and stewed it and made me a great, big bowl of her fabulous thick custard with a generous dollop of the fruit.

What a treat it was.

It brought a much-needed smile to my face.


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Normal Irish News Rules Apply


The winners of the Wordstacker competition are James Mc Brearty, from Feeny, Pauline Leeson, from Belfast, James Crawford, from Strabane, Julie Mc Aleese, from Carnlough, and Pat Downey, from Toomebridge

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