We lost a great raconteur and writer when Sam McAughtry passed away on March 28, 2014.
Sam was a storyteller first and foremost: all his stories were told with great wit and compassion and never failed to enthral the listener.
I served with him for many years on the executive committee of the Irish Writers’ Union with great enjoyment.
I became the newsletter editor under Sam’s chairmanship, and Sam regaled me in private with his tales of his own editorship of something similar in Belfast. On occasions when no material was to hand he would write a pseudonymous letter to himself as editor to create a stir. He would then respond to it using more fictitious names if no readers took the bait to his satisfaction.
He was free with his advice on a book contract of mine: “Ask them for double that advance,” he said in a soft Belfast accent.
I did and he was right; it was worth double the offer.
Long before I got to know Sam I had followed his remembered exploits on radio and in print.
His 2003 memoir On the Outside Looking In, ranks with Saroyan, in places, an opinion I happily was able to express to him years before a long illness began for Sam.
When he could no longer travel to Dublin and had retired from the IWU committee, I posted him a collection of my own published stories of mad people I encountered in humorous situations.
He was kind enough to write back to say he was enjoying the stories and reserved the reading of each new episode for his return from hospital treatments.
Sam was a kind man, a caring guide and a resolute warrior for what he believed in.
He is at peace.
Thank you Sam.