By Ray O’Hanlon
The Irish Echo has a new owner this week.
The sale of the paper was completed at a meeting Tuesday in Manhattan between outgoing publisher Claire O’Gara Grimes and her successor, Dublin businessman Sean Finlay.
Neither side chose to reveal the sale price of the paper, although various reports have placed it in the region of $2.2 million.
The inking of the deal closed an era of Grimes family ownership of the Echo dating back to 1955.
Sean Finlay, whose name appears on the Echo’s masthead as Echo president publisher beginning with this issue, paid tribute to the Grimes stewardship of the Echo while pointing to even better days ahead for the paper, which has been published weekly since 1928.
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“I am delighted with this opportunity and am looking forward to the challenges ahead,” he said.
Finlay is managing director of RF Communications and is part owner and serves on the board of Meteor Communications, which holds one of the three mobile phone licenses in Ireland.
“I am looking forward to building up and expanding the Echo. There will be exciting new reasons for readers to pick up the paper in the weeks and months ahead,” Finlay said.
He added that the day-to-day running of the Echo over the coming six months would be handled by Noel Minogue, who takes on the post of general manager at the Echo’s head offices on Fifth Avenue.
Minogue has also worked in that capacity for RF Communications.
Finlay, who is a board member of the U.S.-based Ireland-U.S. Council, was first linked to a possible purchase of the Echo just over a year ago.
“This is a commercial venture which complements my active involvement in U.S.-Irish trade,” Finlay said when the impending sale was reported by the Echo last month.
He said then that he believes the Echo holds “immense potential” for further development in terms of editorial, distribution and advertising sales.
“The Irish Echo is an ideal vehicle to promote Ireland’s interests in tandem with the interests of Irish America,” Finlay said.
As part of the Echo’s growth plan, an office in Dublin is anticipated. Expansion of the paper’s website is also being planned.