Tim Pat Coogan

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Tim Pat Coogan
Born Timothy Patrick Coogan
(1935-04-22) 22 April 1935 (age 83)
Monkstown, County Dublin, Ireland
Occupation Editor, broadcaster, journalist, writer
Notable credit(s) Editor of The Irish Press (1968–87)
Spouse(s) Cherry Coogan (marriage dissolved)
Children 6 (five daughters, one son)

Timothy Patrick "Tim Pat" Coogan (born 22 April 1935) is an Irish writer, broadcaster and newspaper columnist. He served as editor of The Irish Press newspaper from 1968-87. He has been best-known for such books as The IRA, Ireland Since the Rising, On the Blanket, and biographies of Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera. His biography of de Valera proved controversial, taking issue with the former Irish president's reputation and achievements, in favour of those of Collins, whom he regards as indispensable to the creation of the new State.[citation needed]

Coogan writes from a nationalist perspective. His particular focus has been Ireland's nationalist/independence movement in the 20th century; a period of unprecedented political upheaval. [1][2] He has blamed the Troubles in Northern Ireland on "Paisleyism".[1][3] Sean O'Callaghan, a former IRA paramilitary, turned informant for the Garda Síochána's Special Branch, said that Coogan's material was required reading for jailed IRA prisoners.[4]


Coogan was born in Monkstown, County Dublin in 1935, the first of three children born to Beatrice (née Toal) and Ned Coogan. Ned (sometimes referred to as "Eamonn Ó Cuagain"), a native of Kilkenny, was an Irish Republican Army volunteer during the War of Independence and later served as the first Deputy Commissioner of the newly established Garda Síochána, then a Fine Gael TD for the Kilkenny constituency. Beatrice Toal, the daughter of a policeman, was a Dublin socialite who was crowned Dublin's Civic Queen of Beauty in 1927. She wrote for the Evening Herald and took part in various productions in the Abbey Theatre and Radio Éireann. Coogan spent many summer holidays in the town of Castlecomer in County Kilkenny, his father's home town.[5]

A former student of the Irish Christian Brothers in Dun Laoghaire and Belvedere College in Dublin, he spent most of his secondary studies in Blackrock College in Dublin. In 2000, Irish writer and editor Ruth Dudley Edwards was awarded £25,000 damages and a public apology by the High Court in London against Coogan for factual errors in references to her in his book Wherever Green is Worn: the Story of the Irish Diaspora.[6]

When Taoiseach Enda Kenny caused confusion following a speech at Béal na Bláth by incorrectly claiming Michael Collins had brought Lenin to Ireland, Coogan commented: "Those were the days when bishops were bishops and Lenin was a communist. How would that [Collins bringing Lenin to Ireland] have gone down with the churchyard collections?"[7]

In November 2012, the United States embassy in Dublin refused to grant Coogan a visa to visit the U.S.[why?] As a result a planned book tour for his latest book (The Famine Plot, England's role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy) was cancelled. After representations to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by United States Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY), Coogan received his visa.[8]

Comments by Coogan on the 90th Anniversary of Easter Rising

Excerpt from the 4/12/2006-4/18/2006 edition of the New York-based Irish Voice (page 11) entitled The Lessons of 1916:

Questions like [sic] should 1916 be commemorated? Should there be a military parade? These questions are in reality irritating diversionary tactics utilized by those whose real mental posture is the colonial cringe and whose political philosophy is crypto unionism. ... The basic importance of 1916 is that it formed a substantive, motivating role in the securing of independence, one of the three great turning points of Ireland in the 20th century ... [w]ithout the foregoing the Republic today would be on the same handout level as the six counties, and to a lesser degree Scotland and Wales ([1]).


Coogan has been criticised by Irish historians Luke Kennedy, Cormac Ó Gráda and Diarmaid Ferriter for refusing to keep to good scholarly method and privileging his opinions over evidential fact:

  • "Well, I waited in this book to hear some great revelation and it just isn’t there. It’s anticlimactic. I could not see the great plot, and indeed there is no serious historian who ... I can’t think of a single historian who has researched the Famine in depth – and Tim Pat has not researched it in depth" (The Famine Plot).
  • "This is far from his best: it rakes over ground already all too familiar, adds little that is new, and lacks an obvious narrative or logical structure" (The Famine Plot).
  • "Coogan is not remotely interested in looking at what others have written on 20th-century Irish history. ... he does not appear interested in context and shows scant regard for evidence. He does not attempt to offer any sustained analysis in relation to the challenges of state building, the meaning of sovereignty, economic and cultural transformations, or comparative perspectives on the evolution of Irish society. There is no indication whatsoever that Coogan has engaged with the abundant archival material relating to the subject matter he pronounces on. There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to the citation of the many quotations he uses; the vast majority are not referenced. For the 300-page text, 21 endnotes are cited and six of them relate to Coogan's previous books, a reminder that much of this tome consists of recycled material. ... Tim Pat Coogan ... he is a decent, compassionate man who has made a significant contribution to Irish life. But he has not read up on Irish history; indeed, such is the paucity of his research efforts that this book amounts to a travesty of 20th-century Irish history" (1916: The Mornings After).



  1. 1.0 1.1 20th-century contemporary history: Coogan profile, historyireland.com; accessed 1 March 2015.
  2. "Writing himself into Irish history", irishtimes.com; accessed 1 March 2015.
  3. Reference to Paisleyism by Coogan, historyireland.com; accessed 20 July 2014.
  4. O'Callaghan, Sean. The Informer. Corgi 1999; ISBN 0-552-14607-2, p. 328
  5. Taken from Coogan's Memoir (2008).
  6. UK court rules against Tim Pat Coogan, independent.ie; accessed 15 July 2014.
  7. Brennan, Michael (23 August 2012). "Enda Kenny red-faced over wrong claim that Lenin visited Ireland". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 23 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. O'Dowd, Niall (21 November 2012). "Tim Pat Coogan book tour canceled after visa refusal; best-selling nationalist author is denied visa to the United States". Retrieved 21 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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