THE Dundalk Democrat has experienced a lot of changes since its first edition was printed way back in 1849 including our recent switch to a Tuesday deadline earlier this month.
However, perhaps one of the most significant changes in the newspaper’s history came 10 years ago this week when news was printed on the front page for the first time.
For 151 years before that nothing but a masthead and advertisements had appeared on the front cover, with the BBC insisting at the time that the Democrat was the last in Western Europe to have that format.
The first headline on the new edition - dated Saturday March 24 2001 but actually published on Thursday March 22, exactly 10 years ago today (Tuesday) - read “Strike threat over plans to close brewery” which told of workers’ unrest by Diageo’s decision to close their Dundalk Packaging plant as of April 27 2001.
The first picture was of Chief Scout Peter Dixon preparing for the St Patrick’s Day parade with Jack Cumiskey of the local St Patrick’s Unit while the honour of first by-line went to local journalist Anne Campbell for her story on Gardaí being alarmed at the increase in drink driving around the town.
A lot of things have changed in the last 10 years but the four businesses who advertised on the front of that landmark edition – Magee’s Pharmacy in Earl Street, The Gift and Art Gallery in Clanbrassil Street, Dunnes Fireplaces – then Bridge Street, now Coes Road – and McKenna Man in Earl Street are all still going strongly.
Ironically, Eddie Maguire in Church Street took the biggest ad on the last of the old editions prior to St Patrick’s Day and still advertises on the front of The Dundalk Democrat to this day.
In a sign that some things don’t change, some of the headlines to feature in that historic edition included “Seatown awash with parked vehicles” and “More needs to be done with roads” while amongst those interviewed included TD Seamus Kirk and well known local personality Nicky McCourt.
In the entertainment world, Matt Murphy was directing Wilde for Dundalk Theatre Workshop while the late Joe Dolan was preparing for a visit to the Carrickdale. In the cinema, meanwhile , were the likes of Traffic, Miss Congeniality, Enemy at the Gates and The Gift.
Yes, a lot has changed in the last 10 years – including the entire staff of that first edition – with then editor Joe Carroll the only person with a continuing link with the paper through his Inside Track column which appears weekly in the sports section.
The one constant is that the Democrat still brings you the best local news each week and we will continue to do so in the weeks, months and years ahead.
On the right, Joe Carroll – the then editor who served the paper for 43 years - looks back on that edition of the newspaper with fondness.