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Another milestone for Mayo News correspondent


THREE AMIGOS Billy Horan (centre) pictured with his friends Tony Walkin (left) and Michael Coyne at the 2015 Mayo News/O’Neills Club Stars awards where Billy was the Hall of Fame winner. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Edwin McGreal

THIS time 70 years ago Mayo were the All-Ireland champions, Éamon de Valera was Taoiseach and Billy Horan was about to start a lifelong journey with The Mayo News.
The popular Ballinrobe man first wrote the local notes for his area in 1952 and, 70 years later, he’s still going strong.
Billy celebrated his 89th birthday last Saturday and his notes are as engaging, well-written and clean as ever.
His first notes were on a sevens GAA tournament in the town.
He went on to cover hundreds upon hundreds of football matches and recalls his first big game being the All-Ireland semi-final replay between Mayo and Dublin in 1955.
Former Mayo News Editor Gerry Bracken assigned him the game and it meant his first trip to Croke Park was in a professional capacity.
Since then, Billy has covered hundreds upon hundreds of games for The Mayo News, The Connaught Telegraph and The Western People.
He’s never more at home than covering local games in South Mayo. His knowledge of up and coming footballers in the area was always exceptional, as is the courtesy and good grace he always carries himself with.
A retired English and History teacher in Ballinrobe, Billy’s reports were always eloquent, accurate and, above all, fair. He recalls one rebuke in all his time writing match reports; it might be fair to assume the complainant might have be looking at the game through rose-tinted glasses.
He was inducted into The Mayo News/O’Neills Club Stars Hall of Fame in 2015.
He has served as Chairman and PRO of both Ballinrobe GAA Club and the South Mayo Board and President of the Mayo GAA Board.
He recalls Jim Burke, a camogie officer based in Ballinrobe, putting him in contact with Gerry Bracken in The Mayo News and suggesting Billy could write the local notes for Ballinrobe. It went from there.
Billy continued to do the notes whilst in university. It was in days not alone before e-mail, but also widespread use of phones, so Billy used to post his notes to Westport.
All the while, he chronicled the week to week happenings in the market town of Ballinrobe.
The latest news from clubs and organisations in the town; births, deaths, marriages.
The full picture of life. Reports from the town’s popular racecourse, where Billy is a trustee. All covered in fine detail, week in, week out, for 70 years.
They always dock on time too.
“I enjoy doing them, I find them therapeutic,” Billy said. “I could be falling asleep watching TV and I go down to the study to do my notes and come alive. It gives me a sense of worth too that even at this age I can do something,” he added.
Not just do something, but be one of the best local notes correspondents for our paper at 89-years-young.
Is there anyone serving as long in any other local paper in the country?