The Irish Catholic

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The Irish Catholic
TypeWeekly religion-orientated newspaper
Owner(s)Grace Communications Ltd
Founder(s)T. D. Sullivan, MP
Editor-in-chiefGarry O'Sullivan
Managing editorMichael Kelly
General managerHoai Le O'Sullivan
Political alignmentRoman Catholicism
HeadquartersThe Irish Catholic, Unit 3B, Block 3, Bracken Business Park, Bracken Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18
CirculationUnknown - not ABC audited[1]

The Irish Catholic is a 40-page Irish weekly Roman Catholic newspaper, providing news and commentary about the Roman Catholic Church.

The newspaper is privately owned by editor-in-chief Garry O’Sullivan, managed by a private limited company and independent of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland. Unusually among nationally-available newspapers, it is not a member publication of the Press Council of Ireland, and so is not answerable to the Office of the Press Ombudsman.[2]


The Irish Catholic was founded in 1888 by Timothy Daniel Sullivan, a former Lord Mayor of Dublin and an Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) MP at Westminster. A number of the paper's early staff, including Patrick Fogarty, had worked at The Nation newspaper.

William Francis Dennehy ran the paper from 1888 until his death in 1917. Following a split in the IPP, Dennehy was an outspoken anti-Parnellite and supporter of Tim Healy; an editorial which he published on the death of Charles Stewart Parnell, implying that the dead man had probably gone to Hell, was widely criticised by Parnell supporters. Dennehy was a close associate of William Martin Murphy.

Leo Fogarty, Patrick's son, was managing director of The Irish Catholic from 1936 until 1977. Bill Horgan became chairman in 1982 and Otto Herschan was appointed Managing Director in 1982. The businessman Patrick W. McGrath and former senator, became a director in 1980, he also owed the paper along with Horgan.

John Ryan was editor from 1936 until 1981, the longest-serving editor in the history of the publication. John Ryan was replaced by Nick Lundberg in 1981 who was in turn succeeded by Brigid Anne Ryan, so far the only female editor of the newspaper, which currently employs no women journalists. Brigid Anne Ryan was replaced by David Quinn in 1996.

The paper's offices were on 55 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, before moving to 55 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin 1, where there was a sign fixed to the front of the building. The paper later moved to the Irish Farm Centre in Bluebell, before relocating to Donnybrook and then to the headquarters of St Joseph's Young Priests' Society in Merrion Square, Dublin. The new office is located in the Sandyford Business district of Dublin city.

When David Quinn resigned in 2003 to work for the Irish Independent, Simon Rowe, a member of Opus Dei, was appointed as editor. Simon Rowe resigned after only nine months with the newspaper,[3] over the publication of an article that criticised the Irish bishops' conference.[4] Following Rowe's departure, Hermann Kelly was acting editor of the paper from June 2004 to January 1, 2005, at which point the paper’s sales had reached 27,177 copies.[5] The Board of Directors then appointed Garry O'Sullivan as editor, and he took up his post in January 2005. He was a former reporter with the newspaper and communications manager with the Jesuits in Ireland.[6]

In 2012, with sales at 22,000 and declining in line with the Irish newspaper industry in general, O’Sullivan purchased the newspaper,[7] and in October 2012 became editor-in-chief. Michael Kelly, who had been deputy editor and Rome correspondent previously, became editor under him.

The Irish Catholic claims to have 90,000 readers based on a print circulation of 30,000 copies. This is despite sales having dropped to 22,000 in 2012, and despite national newspaper trends,[8] with newspaper sales in Ireland halving between 2009 and 2019.[9] Like many Irish newspapers, The Irish Catholic is not ABC-audited, but as it is not a member of the Press Council of Ireland[10] it is not obliged to supply independently verified evidence of its circulation.


The paper has a number of journalists and guest contributors, including Mary Kenny (founding member of the Irish Women's Liberation Movement), the psychiatrist Patricia Casey, former TD and government advisor Martin Mansergh, Martin O'Brien (Northern Correspondent), Breda O'Brien, Baroness Nuala O'Loan, and John McGuirk as well as former editor David Quinn and editor-in-chief Garry O'Sullivan.

Ownership and sale[edit]

On 2 March 2007, the Irish Independent reported that the Irish Farmers Journal intended to buy The Irish Catholic.[11] The takeover of The Irish Catholic by the Irish Farmers Journal was reported to be complete on 29 March 2007.[12] In March 2012 the Irish Farmers Journal sold it to a group led by the paper's managing editor Garry O'Sullivan[13] and is published now by Mr O’Sullivan’s company Grace Communications. In 2016, Grace Communications acquired Columba Book Service, which published religious books under the Columba Press imprint and general interest books under the Currach Press imprint.[14]

Grace Communications has two directors, Garry O'Sullivan and Progressive Democrat co-founder[15] Paul McKay.[16] It regards Tabor Asset Holdings, wholly owned and controlled by Garry O'Sullivan, as its parent company, with Tarsus Media Limited and Zion Media Limited being related co-subsidiaries of Tabor Asset Holdings.

Although company profits dropped from €216,692 for the year ended 30 May 2019 to €170,208 for the year ended 30 June 2020, with vehicles worth €139,950 being bought in the intervening period and Mr O'Sullivan owing the company €104,369 on the latter date, remuneration to the company's two directors was €219,056 for the year ended 30 June 2020,[17].


The Irish Catholic has only failed to appear on one occasion, during the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland during which Dublin was in chaos.[citation needed]


John Dunne, Headlines and Haloes, (Dublin 1988)

  1. ^ "Irish Newspaper Circulation Jan-June 2019 Island of Ireland Report". 22 August 2019. Archived from the original on 13 April 2021. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  2. ^ "Member Publications". Archived from the original on 2021-04-06. Retrieved 2021-04-11.
  3. ^[bare URL]
  4. ^ Church property row forces editor to quitThe Sunday Times, 27 June 2004 Archived May 12, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Irish Catholic, 2 December 2004, p. 24
  6. ^ Archived 2005-03-26 at the Wayback Machine[bare URL]
  7. ^ "'Irish Catholic' newspaper sold to editor for undisclosed sum". Archived from the original on 2021-06-10. Retrieved 2021-04-11.
  8. ^ "Irish Newspaper Circulation July-Dec 2019 Island of Ireland Report". ilevel Media, Marketing and Development. 2020-02-20. Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  9. ^ Crowley, Sinéad (2019-05-29). "'Significant challenges' for newspapers highlighted". Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-24. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ "National Newspapers". Archived from the original on 2021-05-15. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  11. ^ "Unison Engineering". 26 August 2016. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2007.
  12. ^ "Catholic paper bought by Farmers' Journal". Archived from the original on 2021-04-13. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  13. ^ 'Irish Catholic' newspaper sold to editor for undisclosed sum Archived 2017-02-22 at the Wayback Machine by Suzanne Lynch, Irish Times, Tue, May 8, 2012.
  14. ^ Mac Donald, Sarah (2016-10-05). "Christmas list is looking very lively says Columba Press". Archived from the original on 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  15. ^ "PD founder to step down over coalition". independent. Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  16. ^ "CORE". Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  17. ^ "CORE". Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-24.

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