In about half an hour, there’s an unveiling of a plaque to one of the least remarked upon artefacts of Irish history: the founding of the News Letter 275 years ago Francis Joy.
Ben lowry of the paper notes this morning:
Early News Letters are among the most important historical documents in Britain or Ireland (50 years before The Times), although most of the first 13 years is missing. There is, though, a fascinating intact six month stretch in 1739 which gives a detailed glimpse far back in time.
Just reading the archive in Belfast Central Library is an extraordinary experience. It records many epic editorial battles.
Not least a prolonged ding dong through the famine years when it conducted a long skirmish with the upstart Times of London over the character of the Irish people.
Though it should be pointed out that it was not in the beginning a daily. And some of the news from America came in directly ‘from our correspondent in The Harve’ as it rolled off the boat three weeks late.
And well into the 1840s, poetry was a regular feature on its pages.
There’s a plaque unveiling at Joy’s Entry this morning at 11am, and what looks like a generous invite back to the papers shiny new offices afterwards. Happy Birthday News Letter. It’s no mean achievement to still be at the party.
Long may it last.
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