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|Headquarters||Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim|
The Leitrim Observer is the oldest newspaper in Leitrim. It is a weekly newspaper published every Wednesday and once competed with another newspaper called the Leitrim Post which has since closed down due to poor sales.
The Leitrim Observer was founded by the Mulvey family in 1889 and was bought by Pat Dunne, for a rumoured sum of £150 some time before 1910 .The paper has experienced a very varied and colourful history. The Black and Tans made the paper their first stop when they came to Carrick-on-Shannon during the War of Independence and badly burned the premises, destroying a lot of the early files of the paper.
In those times the local news pages were printed at the paper's works in Carrick-on-Shannon, while the 'international' news pages were printed elsewhere, and of course, the front page was already devoted entirely to advertising. During Pat Dunne's internment in Ballykinlar, Co. Down, his sister Liza ran the paper for a time. Not many people know that at one point the paper was printed on a Thursday and it was only when the war started in 1939 that this had the effect of bringing the paper's publishing day back a day to a Wednesday, in order to meet the Dublin train which was reduced to running on a once weekly basis.
The paper was brought initially by canal to Carrick and about one and a half bales of the paper would be enough for that week's paper. Each paper was folded by hand and it was not until the early 50's that the first folding machine was introduced. In 1947 a major blizzard in the West of Ireland brought everything to a standstill including the Observer. It was a few days late that week as the storm had knocked out all electricity in the area and made transport impossible.
Down the latter part of the 20th century the paper moved from hot metal printing to the use of linotype machines.The third linotype machine to be bought for the paper had to be lowered from a four story building in Cork city before it could be transported back to Leitrim. Another milestone in the history of the paper was the massive investment for the Observer of an electronic photo-engraving machine, only the second of its kind in Ireland, which set Pat Dunne back £5,000.
Pat Dunne died one Sunday afternoon in 1968, which saw the end of an era for the Observer. However, his nephew, Greg then took over the running of the company, re-organising the paper and spending £10,000 on a Reel Fed Flat Bed printing machine from London and a Duplex machine which enabled the paper to introduce 'spot' colour occasionally. In later years another Pat Dunne, son of Greg, took over as managing director of the paper.
The Leitrim Observer is one of the few provincial papers that can boast full computerisation with everything from the newsroom, to advertising, to photographs, processed through state of the art technology. This modern advancement has also resulted in full page make-up on computers with the pages then sent for printing in Northern Ireland. In September 1998 Scottish Radio Holdings purchased the Leitrim Observer for £1m. UK based group Johnston Press later purchased the Leitrim Observer in June 2005. The paper is currently owned by Iconic Newspapers, who acquired Johnston Press' titles in the Republic of Ireland in 2014.
According to ABC, circulation declined to 6,273 for the period July 2012 to December 2012, this represented a fall of 9% on a year-on-year basis.
- "Johnston Press sells its 14 titles in the Republic". Irish Times. Retrieved 2014-08-22.