When Michael first came to the Leinster Leader I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him.
He spoke his mind, loved a good argument, and was about as far from politically correct as they come.
No surprise then that we came to a certain meeting of the minds...
And it wasn’t long before myself and my colleague Joan Walsh came up with a nickname for him - Cruel Daddy.
Michael feigned a mild protest; but he secretly loved it. Probably because he saw the irony in it every bit as much as we did.
Belligerent and stubborn? Yes.
Wicked sense of humour? Yes.
Cruel? Never. I think everyone realised that beneath the often curmudgeonly crust he had a heart of gold.
The Daddy part of the moniker was more in keeping.
Michael was a great mentor, always willing to take young journalists under his wing and always ready at the drop of a hat (or a fiver onto the bar counter) to give advice.
It was sound advice too. His years in the newspaper industry had not turned him into a cynic, and he never forgot his sense of fair play.
“Never,” he once told me, “print anything that does not sit well with your conscience. You have to be able to sleep at night.” I’m sure Michael’s sleeping soundly now.
I have countless anecdotes I could share - but sadly not fit for print.
One lasting memory is of his love of Leonard Cohen - and absolute horror when I confessed that I didn’t share his enthusiasm.
Always keen to convert others to his way of thinking, Michael made me a double CD.
Not only that, he spent five minutes instructing me on which one I should listen to first, and why.
And I have to admit, he was right.
Cohen’s Closing Time was playing as Michael’s coffin was carried from the church last Friday.
‘Ah we’re drinking and we’re dancing and the band is really happening and the Johnny Walker wisdom running high..’
He’d have loved it. Enough (as the man might say himself) to bring a tear to a glass eye...
- Sylvia Pownall, formerly of the Leinster Leader and now deputy night editor, Irish Sun