Alan was a noted jour­nal­ist with an in­ves­tiga­tive mind

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - NEWS -

THE death of Alan (Richard An­nand) Wilkes, En­niskerry, Co Wick­low, for­merly Mo­tor­ing Cor­re­spon­dent and Deputy Edi­tor of the Evening Press, oc­curred un­ex­pect­edly on Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 20.

Born in Dublin into a fam­ily of jour­nal­ists, he fol­lowed his fa­ther Dick Wilkes into the press af­ter leav­ing UCD where he stud­ied sci­ence. He grew up in Tem­pleogue where sum­mer hol­i­days were shared with his cousin David Wilkes in Malahide. David re­mem­bers him say­ing: ‘I lived on the right side of the North­side whereas he lived on the wrong side of the South­side, which can­celled any no­tions we might have had about where we lived.’

As a child, he was pas­sion­ate about model planes, ships and trains. This may have been the foun­da­tion of his mo­tor­ing ob­ses­sion.

Alan had a dis­tin­guished ca­reer as a jour­nal­ist. As deputy edi­tor of the Evening Press, he is re­mem­bered by col­leagues as a mas­ter of his craft and as a mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist of con­sid­er­able dis­tinc­tion.

He had a well-honed abil­ity to dis­cover un­usual as­pects of any story and to trans­form them into an ar­ti­cle or fea­ture that would im­me­di­ately cap­ture the at­ten­tion of the reader. He wrote obit­u­ar­ies for the Tele­graph and it was a well-kept se­cret that he of­ten cre­ated con­tro­ver­sies in the let­ters pages of Ir­ish and cross-chan­nel news­pa­pers us­ing the pseu­do­nym of his beloved gin­ger cat.

He had an un­ri­valled knowl­edge of cars, and he loved to test the lat­est mod­els on out­ings which he fre­quently shared with his friend, Austin Chan­ning, who was the mo­tor­ing cor­re­spon­dent for Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent and later Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Peo­ple News­pa­pers, Wex­ford.

Alan was a mem­ber of the Ir­ish Mo­tor­ing Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, and he was a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor of ar­ti­cles and fea­tures on dif­fer­ent as­pects of mo­tor­ing to a num­ber of pub­li­ca­tions.

Fol­low­ing the clo­sure of the Ir­ish Press group, Alan took up a po­si­tion as Lec­turer in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Dublin In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy. It gave him great sat­is­fac­tion to have the op­por­tu­nity to pass on prac­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion which he gained from his ex­pe­ri­ence as a work­ing jour­nal­ist and free­lance writer.

He was pre­de­ceased in 2006 by his wife, Clare Boy­lan, the ac­claimed nov­el­ist, short story writer and jour­nal­ist. Alan and Clare were pas­sion­ate about France and bought a house in Brit­tany in 2003, where they ex­tended hos­pi­tal­ity to both fam­ily and friends. They looked on this house as their real home, and after­wards it be­came both a memo­rial to Clare and a haven for Alan.

When Clare died, Alan said: ‘ I thought the lights had all gone out when the Press folded, but worse was to come; a much brighter light has gone out for me now. I had known Clare since she was 17, vir­tu­ally her en­tire life. She was al­ways petite but pow­er­ful, and her in­flu­ence is still all around me. I feel that she is still look­ing over my shoul­der.’

A Ser­vice of Re­mem­brance took place on Mon­day, Fe­bru­ary 26, in The Vic­to­rian Chapel, Mount Jerome. The Cel­e­brant was Rev Hugh Gorm­ley and soloist was Bren­dan Collins, ac­com­pa­nied by Niall Kin­sella.

In a trib­ute, Tony Toner from the Mo­tor­ing World spoke of shar­ing time with a gen­tle­man who loved or­der and deco­rum, all with his own sprin­kling of pep­per and nat­u­ral crank­i­ness.

Tony re­called walk­ing into a lounge in Dublin Air­port in 1994. ‘In the room’, he said, ‘stood Pat Comyn, Ted Bon­ner, An­drew Hamil­ton and Alan Wilkes. Never in my back­ground did I feel as in­tim­i­dated as I did that morn­ing. These men were pow­er­houses in their pro­fes­sion and I was se­ri­ously out of my depth and com­fort zone.’

Alan’s de­meanour was al­ways gen­tle­manly and be­lied his vast knowl­edge and dev­il­ish sense of hu­mour. Out on the road with Alan was a phe­nom­e­nal op­por­tu­nity to delve into his world, where, be­fore Google, he was the or­a­cle. Press con­fer­ences were where Alan truly came into his own. He could for­ward a ques­tion that was as fear­less as his re­lent­less­ness for the an­swer.

Through Face­book, Alan dis­cov­ered an av­enue to ex­pound on and ex­press some of the things that irked him. There he found a whole new au­di­ence, some of them find­ing out quickly his for­mi­da­ble tal­ent.

Tony con­cluded: ‘In say­ing good­bye to Alan to­day as he makes his fi­nal jour­ney, our hearts are with his fam­ily and their loss. I will miss him hugely, as will all in mo­tor­ing lucky enough to share the miles with a true one-off.’

Vis­its from Alan and Clare al­ways en­hanced fam­ily cel­e­bra­tions rais­ing them from the mun­dane to the ex­otic. His friends re­mem­ber them both for their gen­er­ous hos­pi­tal­ity and en­ter­tain­ing com­pany.

He is sur­vived by his sis­ter, Clodagh; sis­ters-in-law, Pa­tri­cia and Anne, nieces and neph­ews, other rel­a­tives and many friends.

Alan will be re­mem­bered as a real in­di­vid­u­al­ist, with an in­ves­tiga­tive mind, hugely ar­tic­u­late – his speeches punc­tu­ated by his dis­tinc­tive hearty chuckle, who liked to do things his way.

The late Alan Wilkes.

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