Billy Horan - 60 Years with Local Papers and Still Thinking Ahead

Detail from painting of Scribe
Memories of teaching days in Ballinrobe
Sunset at Caher Pier Jan 2011
Liam Horan

Billy Horan and Ballinrobe go hand-in-hand and, across 60 years, the genial retired teacher has become synonymous with sport and local reporting in the area. Cróna Esler caught up with Billie.

At the age of 78, Billy Horan is as active as he ever was and has no intention of slowing down.  As he celebrates six decades of reporting with local papers in Mayo, Billy is still going strong. And, the good news is, he doesn’t intend to put down his pen any time soon!


A former secondary school teacher, Billy has taught many subjects in his time. He began his teaching career in St Mary’s College in Ballygar and, after three years there, returned to his hometown to take on a post in the former Christian Brothers School (CBS). In 1990, he joined the staff at Ballinrobe Community School and remained there until his retirement in 1998.  Over the years, Billy has taught Latin, history, geography, religion, English and Irish, as well as being involved with football teams in the schools and with the local GAA Club.


Teaching and football run in the family.  His father was Principal in Partry and his grandfather before him. Billy’s dad also played for Mayo and has a Junior All-Ireland medal. Like Billy, his father was involved in the administration side of things too and was a well-known referee in the area.  As a child, Billy travelled to games with his father and developed a strong passion for the sport.

Down through the years, the much-admired Ballinrobe man has held the positions of Chairman of Ballinrobe GAA Club, Chairman of the South Mayo Board, PRO and President of the County Board and Secretary of Connacht Scór. At present, he is PRO of both the Ballinrobe GAA Club and the South Mayo Board.

Of course, Billy played football himself as well as refereeing for many years but, at the back of it all, he always had an interest in journalism and would send pieces in to the local papers from the school or club games.


In 1952, the year of the Big Snow, Billy was asked to do the local notes and become the Ballinrobe Correspondent for the Mayo News and the first piece he wrote was an account of a seven-a-side tournament in the town.  In University, he continued to do bits and pieces for the papers and in fact, his first time to ever set foot in Croke Park was as a reporter in the Press Box in 1955!

Over the years, Billie has worked for the Western Journal, Connacht Tribune and Connacht Telegraph, as well as being a valued member of the team at the Western People for the last 25 years.  Whether writing for the sports section or looking after the community notes, Billy is known for his fairness, accuracy and brilliance in reporting.

Never one to sit idle, the popular Ballinrobe man is happiest when he’s out and about and busy.  In fact, for some time, as well as teaching, reporting and being involved in the administration side of the GAA;  he even ran a pub on Main Street!

Actively retired

While Billy has always been involved in sports reporting, he was delighted when he retired to be in a position to go along to more college matches.

“There was no way I was going to just sit back when I retired and it was great to be able to get more involved with reporting on college games. When people retire and withdraw from life, they can sometimes lose all incentive to be involved in things around them. I was lucky in that regard and I wasn’t about to sit back and let the world pass me by,” he confided.

Footnote: Billy sadly passed away in February 2022 at the age of 89.

Comments about this page

  • He taught me at The CBS in the 70’s. Always a very dignified and well read man.

    By KEVIN OMALLEY (31/03/2017)

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