Northern Ireland news

Former BBC broadcaster Frank Galligan pens poem in memory of Anita Robinson

Irish News columnist Anita Robinson passed away following a short illness on Tuesday
Seamus McKinney

Writer and former BBC broadcaster Frank Galligan has penned an emotional tribute to writer and broadcaster Anita Robinson.

A columnist with The Irish News for more than 20 years, Mrs Robinson (76) passed away following a short illness on Tuesday.

Her Requiem Mass will take place at St Eugene’s Cathedral today in her native Derry followed by a private cremation at a later date.

Known for her insightful takes on everyday life, Mrs Robinson was a weekly commentator on BBC radio and was also in huge demand as a public speaker. Her weekly Irish News column was one of the newspaper’s most popular, frequently outlining her life with her late husband, Trevor and only daughter, Sarah, always referred to as “the loving spouse” and “daughter dear”.

Anne Clarke: Anita Robinson, a friend like no other

Along with her work as a writer, Mrs Robinson was a primary school teacher. She also worked with literary and cultural organisations the Pushkin Trust and the Verbal Arts’ Centre through which she brought her passion for literature into schools across Ireland.

Mrs Robinson’s work with the Pushkin Trust brought her into contact with former BBC radio presenter, Mr Galligan with whom she and her late husband developed a long friendship.

For many years a presenter with Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle, Mr Galligan now works as a writer and as a broadcaster with Highland Radio in his native Co Donegal.

As news of Mrs Robinson’s death spread on Tuesday, Mr Galligan paid his own poignant tribute to his late friend.

“I was devastated to hear about my dear friend," he told The Irish News.

His poem has also been passed on to Mrs Robinson’s family.


In Memory of Anita Robinson

On the way back from Baronscourt, you spoke of Trevor,

And I reminded you that I knew him in our wireless days,

Long before I met him - as did half the country,

The absent ever present ‘loving spouse’.

“What would Pushkin have made of it?”, you wondered,

And I recalled you in your pomp, the tears rolling

Off the audience, off Pushkin’s own Sacha, as your eyebrows

Teased us about gingham underwear and the full knicker.

And you could arch those eyebrows,

Not that you were ever arch, our own Bond’s Hill girl,

Regaling us with stories of blackboards and chalk,

Of the children you loved and loved you back.

I see you now, menthol cigarette and gin and tonic

In hand, words effortlessly clearing the smoke,

Or in studio A in the Northland Road,

Dispersing the smog of the terribly smug.

In Eugene Onegin, Pushkin wrote:

“And thus they aged, as do all mortals.

Until at last the husband found

That death had opened wide its portals,

Through which he entered, newly crowned.”

That’s what he would have made of it, Anita,

And as that portal opens once again,

The ‘loving spouse’ extends his hand.

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