Northern Ireland

Friends and colleagues mark Anita Robinson's anniversary

Friends and colleagues gathered in Derry to mark the first anniversary of the death of writer, Anita Robinson. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Friends and colleagues gathered in Derry to mark the first anniversary of the death of writer, Anita Robinson. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

WRITERS, journalists and musicians gathered in Derry to pay tribute to former Irish News columnist and author Anita Robinson on the first anniversary of her death.

One of the north’s most accomplished writers and broadcasters, Mrs Robinson (76) died after a short illness on February 2 last year.

The Derry woman was particularly popular for her witty take on life in her weekly Irish News column.

All aspects of Mrs Robinson’s life were reflected at “Anita’s Night” in Derry’s Hollywell Trust on Friday.

Friends, colleagues and admirers read from her work and paid tributes. The evening was organised by former colleagues from the world of journalism, literature and broadcasting, including Malachi O’Doherty, Maureen, Boyle, Joe Mahon, Anne Craig and others.

BBC colleagues, Mark Patterson, Colum Arbuckle and Marie Louise Muir played audio excerpts from her weekly Radio Foyle column while Derry singer, Frances Campbell provided music.

Speakers from Mrs Robinson’s “Nollaig na mBan” (The Women’s Christmas) group, the Armagh Literary Festival, the Verbal Arts Centre and the John Hewitt Summer School paid personal tributes. Other friends read extracts from the Derry woman’s newspaper columns and other publications.

Writer and broadcaster, Malachi O’Doherty said Friday’s gathering was organised for people who loved Mrs Robinson; to give them a chance to share their memories and reminisce about the Derry writer.

“My wife, Maureen Boyle and myself, had the idea to organise an anniversary evening and I contacted Joe Mahon (Mahon’s Way) and it took off. The speakers were all Anita’s friends, Joe, Maire Louise Muir, Mary Murphy and others,” he said.

Mr O’Doherty said he enjoyed a long friendship with Mrs Robinson and her late husband, Trevor on a personal level and as a fellow-writer.

“Anita was a writer and a brilliant writer with a particular style of writing which matched her dress and demeanour. She was a genuine person with a great insight and lots of brilliant stories. She had a great love of children from her days as a school teacher.

“The reason for organising this was, I suppose, because of the shock of how suddenly Anita died and the sense that a moment was missed. I suppose having had a year to assimilate that, we wanted to do something,” the Belfast-based writer said.

In a personal tribute, Mr O’Doherty said Mrs Robinson left a tremendous legacy as a writer and had a wicked sense of humour.

“She recorded the day to day lives of people and was in that tradition. Anita dealt in the ordinary and she was funny, she was just very funny. She appealed to all backgrounds and she was a performer, a great radio performer,” Mr O’Doherty said