NEW four-part series Print and Be Damned, which premieres at 9pm on TV3 at 9pm on Thursday, August 8, looks likely to be compelling viewing. Presented by intrepid investigative reporter Donal McIntyre, who began his own career in the Irish press, and explores the hidden history of Irish newspapers and the role journalists played in uncovering the truth behind the headlines.
Each episode looks at distinct themes, and the first explores one of Ireland’s biggest scandals and one of its media’s biggest scoops – Bishop Eamon Casey having fathered a lovechild, Peter, with his lover Annie Murphy.
That lovechild is now 38 years old, and Murphy meets McIntyre in the first explosive episode, in which he confesses he wanted to “deck” Gay Byrne over the infamous 1993 Late Late Show interview the broadcaster did with his mother. In it, Byrne told Murphy that if her son turned out to be half the man Casey was, he would be doing alright. He tells McIntyre: “What I loved the best was my mom’s response. The way she got up and walked out, I was like “hell yeah”.
Murphy also recalls the first time he met his father, in a lawyer’s office in Boston: “My absolute memory of the event isn’t word for word, but it was me trying to engage [with] him and him having really no interest in engaging back with me. It was so emotional, I remember it affected me really badly, I freaked out”.
In the same episode, McIntyre explores the infamous Kerry Babies story with Nell McCafferty and retail king and Celtic Tiger fat cat Ben Dunne offers a frank account of how he was hounded by the Irish press after his cocaine-fuelled trip to Florida, and his subsequent fall from grace.
Presenter MacIntyre said: “This has been a remarkable journey for me. The story of Irish newspapers is a mirror of the story of Ireland – a hidden history complete with twists, turns and moments that you just couldn’t make up.”
Future programmes are sure to be equally engrossing, and include music mogul Louis Walsh revealing the financial and emotional cost of libel as he talks about his recent €500,000 damages payout.
It’s about the stories, but also the characters; the newspaper tycoons, the larger-than-life personalities and crime journalists and the dangers they face, concluding with an examination of the biggest threat facing every modern newspaper faces – how to survive and stay relevant in the digital age.
Other contributors to the series include well-known journalists like Eamon Dunphy, Sam Smyth, Olivia O’Leary, Tim Pat Coogan, David McWilliams and Paul Williams, as well as interviews with figures who rarely do any press, like Irish Press proprietor Eamon de Valera, Sunday Independent Editor Anne Harris and Irish Times cartoonist Martyn Turner.