The World’s First Newspaper Interview

Bridget O’Donnel from County Clare may have been the world’s first person interviewed by a newspaper. Her story appeared in the London Illustrated News on December 22, 1849. We are told her story of a woman of little means, cheated of her home and possessions and devastated by the death of her 13-year-old-son.

This was probably the world’s first human interest interview. During these times the poor featured anonymously as part of the peasantry and they were seldom identified by name. The history of newspapers says that the first interview was in 1859 in the United States where it was attributed to Horace Greeley, who was the founder and editor of the New York Tribune. The Bridget O’Donnel interview pre-dates this by 10 years.

This story is fully developed in Michael Foley’s Death in Every Paragraph: Journalism & the Great Irish Famine.

Cork University Press and Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University will celebrate the launch of the second series of Famine Folios, a collection of essays that covers various aspects of the Irish Famine, at the Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street Dublin 2

The following four folios will be released:

  • L. Perry Curtis Jr.; Notice to Quit: The Great Irish Famine Evictions.”
  • Michael Foley; Death in Every Paragraph: Journalism & the Great Irish Famine.”
  • Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh; I mBéal an Bháis”: The Great Famine and the Language Shift in 19th-Century Ireland.”
  • Robert Smart;Black Roads: The Famine in Irish Literature.”

Luke Gibbons, who is Professor of Irish Literary and Cultural Studies on Maynooth University, will launch the books.

Series editors Grace Brady, executive director of the museum will speak about the Famine Folios series.

“The Famine Folios are a unique resource for students, scholars and researchers, as well as general readers, covering many aspects of the Famine in Ireland from 1845–1852, the worst demographic catastrophe of 19th-century Europe,” said Brady.

“The essays are interdisciplinary in nature and make available new research in famine studies by internationally established scholars in history, art history, cultural theory, philosophy, media history, political economy, literature and music,” Brady said. “This publications initiative augments the museum experience, and is part of the museum’s commitment to making its collection accessible to audiences of all ages and levels of educational interest.

Further information on the series at

Mike Collins, Publications Director, Cork University Press
Tel: 00 353 (0)21 490 2980

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