The Newspaper Press in Ireland in 1860

The following is a transcription of Chapter IX, from The Newspaper Press of the Present Day (London: Saunders, Otley & Co., 1860; pp. 106–11).

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NEWSPAPER PRESS IN IRELAND—BIRTH OF THE “DUBLIN GAZETTE”—NEWSPAPERS EXTANT IN IRELAND—IRISH NEWSPAPER POLITICS.

WE are now in the sister kingdom, taking our census of the Irish newspaper population. Ireland, it seems, was far behind England and Scotland in the first birth of its newspaper family. Its press produced nothing in the seventeenth century. The birth of its first paper was in 1700. In that year a daily journal came out in Dublin, and continued for more than half a century. The next newspaper in Dublin (a daily one) was produced in 1728. In the provinces two newspapers made their appearance; one at Waterford, in 1729, and one at Belfast—the Belfast News Letter—in 1737. This paper is still in existence, and is the oldest of the Irish press extant. It is now a daily paper, published at twopence. The next of the old Irish papers extant is Saunders’s News Letter, which came out in Dublin in 1746. The Freeman’s Journal, Mr. Andrews says, was started about the same time; but some records fix the date of its birth at a much later period. In one it is stated as 1755 [Haydn's "Dictionary of Dates"] and in another as 1763 [Mitchell's "Newspaper-Press Dictionary, 1860."] These three papers are now published daily; the Belfast News Letter at twopence, Saunders’s News Letter at threepence, and the Freeman’s Journal at fourpence. The other newspapers now existing in Ireland established at the latter end of the last century were the following: viz., The Sligo Journal, in 1760; the Limerick Chronicle (now published twice a week), in 1766; the Kilkenny Journal, (twice a week), established in 1767 as the Leinster Journal, and first published under its present title in 1830; the Dublin Gazette in 1767; the Londonderry Journal in 1772 (weekly); the Kerry Evening Post, 1774 (twice a week); the Clare Journal, 1776 (twice a week); the Dublin Evening Post, three times a week. This journal was established originally in 1725, but was discontinued for some years. The date of the present series is 1779. The Dublin Gazette, which is issued twice a week, corresponds in the nature of its announcements and advertisements with the London Gazette. "The patent for publishing it was for many years held by a private individual, who charged the Government for its announcements just the same as if they had been ordinary advertisements; but in 1836 Mr. Price, the then holder of the patent, surrendered it to the Government for a superannuation allowance of 1500l. a year. After that time it was resolved that no Government advertisements should be charged for; and that the profits derived from the paper should go into the public purse."* It is now published at the Government printing office in Abbey-street. * "History of British Journalism," vol. ii, p. 301.

We have remarked that the birth of the newspaper family in Ireland began at a later period than that in England and Scotland, but we should mention that its progress from the time it did commence was greater than that of the Scotch news paper press. This will appear in one of the summaries. It has been stated that the number of newspapers in Ireland in 1782 was only three, but this must be a mistake, as we find the papers extant in Ireland were, up to 1776, eleven in number. In 1790 there were 27; in 1795, 35; Scotland at that time having only 13; in 1809, Ireland had 37 papers; in 1815, 49; in 1821, 56; in 1830, 60; Scotland having then only 36; in 1833, Ireland had 69; in 1836, 78; 1837, 71; 1838, 77; 1839, 89; in 1840, 90, Scotland having 70; in 1847, 80, Scotland having then reached it within 3, the number in Scotland being 77.

There were existing in Ireland, at the beginning of 1860, 129 newspapers—31 in Dublin and 98 in the other counties, including one established in Leitrim County and one in the County Wicklow; in neither of which counties had any newspaper existed prior to 1855. The total number of papers established in Ireland between 1854 and 1860 appears to be 35, including within that period four penny daily papers established in Dublin, three being morning papers and one an evening paper. There are now in Dublin seven daily papers, five morning and two evening, and three semi-weekly papers, including the old Evening Post. In the other counties in Ireland there are six daily papers—three at Cork, two at Belfast, and one at Waterford.

The CLASS JOURNALS in Ireland are those relating to the Churches of England and Ireland, and the Presbyterian Churches; and there are several that represent various other sects. Others represent the interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures; medicine, surgery, law, literature, and sporting. The great Mercantile Journal at Belfast "circulates in the United Kingdom and throughout the world as an important mercantile record." * It is published by the authority of Her Majesty’s Customs, under the control of a committee of merchants. There are several advertising sheets published gratis in Ireland, amongst which are two in Dublin, and one at Belfast. *Mitchell's "Newspaper Press Directory."

The newspapers extant in Ireland to 1860 were published during the following periods: From the first issuing of the Dublin Gazette to 1800, 11; from 1800 to 1830, 20; from 1830 to 1855, 62; from 1855 to 1860, 35; making a total of 129; of these, 13 are daily papers, 9 are published three times a week, 18 twice a week, 83 weekly, 3 fortnightly, and 3 monthly. Eleven of the old papers have within the last few years reduced their prices to a level with those of the young press, and there are now in Ireland altogether 34 cheap papers, two of which have been recently established in Leitrim and Wicklow counties.

newspaper press 1860a

The above enumeration of cheap papers includes six which, as advertising publications, are issued gratis. It will be seen that in Ireland only—not in England or Scotland—the full-priced journals outnumber the cheap papers. The politics of the Irish papers seem to preponderate in favour of Conservative principles, as will be seen by the following summary :—

newspaper press 1860b


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