NOEL COOGAN recalls the golden age of the evening newspaper market
For a few years back in the fifties and early sixties there were three of them in Dublin as well as similar publications in Cork and Belfast. But now there are none in Ireland – the reference is to evening newspapers.
Evening papers in this country date way back to 1732 when the Dublin Evening Post went on sale in the capital city. The publication went on to 1736 and reappeared for a brief period, from May to July that year.
The paper was again published in 1778 and lasted until 1875, coming out some weeks on Tuesdays, hursdays and Saturdays.
The Dublin Evening Post was published by John Magee, who was described as colourful and eccentric. The paper was sold for five old pence, which was a lot of money for such a product in those years, and put buying it out of reach of many ordinary people.
Still the publication enjoyed a good circulation although some of the contents got Magee into serious bother. Following libel actions taken by two complainants, Magee was sentenced to a term in jail. After assuming control of the paper in 1807, his son, John Magee junior, suffered similar consequences and, after printing defamatory articles, heavy fines and jail terms were imposed on two occasions.
The Dublin Evening Mail was founded in 1823 and had a long lifespan, continuing publishing until 1962, having the word ‘Dublin’ removed from its title in 1928.
In the early years of the journal circulation rose to 2,500, a decent enough figure considering that most people of the time were unable to read.
Other evening papers in the distant past were the Dublin Evening Telegraph and the Dublin Evening Standard. The Telegraph took a nationalist stance and was published from 1871 to 1924 while the Standard had a short existence from January to June in 1870.
The Evening Herald was first published in December 1891 and had a very strong readership in many parts of the country for several years.
The paper contained a number of popular features which readers looked forward to. The cartoon strip Mutt and Jeff was one of those and amazingly many believed that tips for big races could be gained from the comic strip.