Recognition of unsung Derry literary great Michael McTernan

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Derry may be City of Culture in 2013, but as the records of one local family have shown, there was more culture than you could shake a stick at in the city in the fifties and the sixties long before bidding to put an official title on it came into the question.

It’s an era which is often glossed over as the focus is firmly placed on the current vibrant arts scene in the city but this weekend in a feature which will be published in full in the Sunday Journal, the family of the late Michael McTernan, who died in 1975, have spoken at length about their father’s achievements in the world of literature.

Also well known in political circles, McTernan, who grew up in Bishop Street, was well respected and had one of his plays accepted by Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. His radio plays were also a hit and remarkably he found the time to write while being a proactive member of the Nationalist Party in Derry Corporation between 1952 and 1961.

In an obituary published in The Journal in 1975 shortly after he died, McTernan was described as:

“Of a quiet and unassuming nature with a reputation for efficiency and integrity in all the spheres of life in which he used his considerable talent in the interest of the community.”

Speaking to the Journal this week, Michael’s widow Marion said she was delighted that her late husband was finally getting recognition for his achievements in the local press.

“He never looked for praised or credit for his work and I have no doubt that if he had lived he would have gone on to do great things with his writing,” she said.

Always writing with a strong social conscience, McTernan took his inspiration from what he saw around him and focused on the struggles of the community in Derry.

Don’t miss this Sunday’s Journal for an indepth focus on Michael McTernan and examples of his work detailing a Derry of a different era.